04/17/2014 09:01 EDT | Updated 06/17/2014 05:59 EDT

Trout Lake off-lease plans anger dog owners

East Vancouver dog owners say they're devastated by a proposal to drastically reduce the size of the off-leash area at Trout Lake.

"We're the underdogs," dog owner Gloria Kieler told The Early Edition. "They left us the scraps. They gave us the dog leftovers, pardon the pun."

Currently, dogs can roam off-leash over 29,000 square meters at Trout Lake. The city wants to reduce that to 6,000 square meters, which is about the size of a soccer field.

Under the new plan, dogs would no longer be able to romp at the north beach of the park. Instead, they'll be fenced in along an area on the northwest of the lake.

The proposal is part of the city's new master plan for John Hendry Park — as Trout Lake is officially called.

Dog owners cite crowding concerns

Kieler is one of more than 100 people on a Facebook group called Dog Lovers of Trout Lake, which is dedicated to protesting the changes.

"Three-hundred and sixty days a year, rain or shine, the dog people are there, because they love their dogs and want to exercise them," Kieler said.

"Most of the other people only come out in the summertime to walk in the park."

Kieler, who walks with the assistance of two canes, says the proposed off-leash area will be a challenge for her to access, since she'll have to keep her dog Luki on leash when she leaves her car.

"What we have is a long strip. It's not going to be good for the dogs chasing balls, or playing with each other," Keiler said.

"It's going to be crowded, and there might be problems with so many dogs crowded in an area."

The city says it's responding to concerns from park users who are uncomfortable with potential dog interactions, as well as concerns about water quality impacts.

Keiler says she's never seen a conflict between dogs and people at the park.

The master plan has yet to be finalized. The city is asking for online feedback until the end of the month.

READ: Vancouver Park Board draft master plan for Trout Lake