After seeing the community come together to create a skate park and a splash centre, Rylee Johnson is getting ready to knuckle down, work hard, and make a fenced community dog park happen. The idea started to stew last summer, after she created the Facebook page Revelstoke off lease ‘dog park.‘
“People were just complaining on Facebook and not doing anything about it, so I figured why not be proactive and start group walks at least to get the community together,” Johnson says.
Originally, the group started their walks at Bridge Creek. When the salmon started to run and in an effort to avoid disrupting any bears in the area, the group began to gather near the Illecillewaet river in an area, according to the city map, that falls within the official off leash zone.
“We’ve been there ever since. The walks run Tuesday and Thursday at 6 pm and Saturdays at 10 am,” explains Johnson. “People have been amazing about attending. We highly recommend picking up after your dog, and the dogs have all been great and the humans are making friends as well, which is really cool to see.”
There are, she notes, people who walk every day in the area, and the group meet ups have seen as few as four dogs show up, to as many as eighteen. People will post on the Facbook page when they are walking if it falls outside of the designated meet ups, and likely, someone will come join them.
While the meet ups were giving dog owners a chance to socialize their pups and themselves, Johnson is hoping that the formation of the Macpherson Dog Park Society will lead to the creation of a permanent fenced dog park.
“There are a lot of people who have puppies or who have awesome dogs but they can’t participate with the off leash walks because they are worried about the dog taking off and not coming back,” she says. “With having a fenced park we’d be able to keep wildlife out and use the park at any hour of the day so any type of shift worker could go.”
Johnson has the not for profit society up and running, and she is hoping to rally a team of like minded individuals representing a broad spectrum of dog owners in Revelstoke to form the Board of Directors. She is also looking for volunteers to help tackle the fundraising and grant writing needed to succeed.
“So far, I have been working with Cody Younker and the City in an effort to get this going,” Johnson elaborates. “We have few potential locations in mind, but the final location is yet to be determined. Our goal would be to have it fenced with dog waste bags and disposal around the park along with a water source, a couple benches, and some lighting, as we know how dark it gets in the winter.”
Having safe and contained dog parks is a concept that has been embraced in numerous communities; Salmon Arm, Sicamous and Golden have all have dog parks for locals and visitors to utilize.
Johnson is hopeful Revelstoke will get on board with the project.
“I think this will be a great asset to the community, and for all our visitors we get,” she says.
Anyone who wants to help make it happen can attend the first open meeting of the Macpherson Dog Park Society this February, the 24th at 6:30 pm, in the Macpherson room of the Revelstoke Community Centre.