I am writing in response to Mark Halwa’s letter to the editor in the October 26th edition of the Pioneer. He stated, among other things, that dogs will not be allowed on the Westside Trail. I heard rumour of this a few years back but upon checking into it at the time on their website and hearing him speak about his dream for the trail at various events, I neither read nor heard anything about such a restriction so put it down to misinformation or an idea that had been suggested and vetoed.
In that same letter he used the reasoning that dogs and bike speed would be a concern on the trail. That statement has left me concerned about the safety of young bikers and families out for a slow weekend stroll. I certainly never pictured ‘speed’ being a concern for anyone’s safety as I assumed all trail users would be encouraged to move at a pace that would ensure the safety of all. The road is still available for those who wish to go fast, is it not?
My husband and I have been faithful supporters of the trail from the onset and have donated a significant amount of money towards its completion. We have followed its progress over the past few years and cheered when we saw the community taking ownership of this wonderful project and financial support for it growing. We eagerly awaited the day we would be able to have our two old dogs join us for a walk along the trail. Now, after reading your letter, I feel we have been “deceived.” Your website states that this trail will be a multi-use trail for walkers, runners, bikers, etc. I suppose I was naive to assume that canine family members would be welcome on a trail through the woods. I reread your website again tonight to see if I missed something, and, perhaps I missed it again, but nowhere did I see that dogs would not be allowed or that fast biking speeds would be. Such a shame. We will likely not get much chance to use this community trail we contributed to. I kinda wish I had known before making our donation. I wonder how many other people are feeling the same way?
We have walked and biked a multitude of city and park trails in Canada and the US and, aside from some remote trails in the USA national parks, our furry friends have always been welcome. We have seen walkers with and without dogs, runners, bikes and scooters, all using paved trails harmoniously both in and outside city limits. The only thing I ever saw that had the potential to be a danger were bikers using the “community” trails for training purposes and riding at excessive speeds. If you feel a need to apply restrictions on trail users I would suggest that speed is a far greater concern than a responsible dog owner wanting to share some quality time with their pet. If you need a local example, walk the Dorothy Lake loop any time of the day and you will see that most of those users are dog owners and here is little or no “record” of their passing.
Please reconsider your policy or keep your dog restriction to a small area of the trail.
Robin Britton and Jim Guild