03/13/2015 08:19 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT

Toronto Off-Leash Dog Complaints Spike

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Toronto had a record amount of complaints about off-leash dogs at city parks last year, but one councillor says there’s little the city can do about it.

The problem is one of density. As dog owners share a downtown with limited green space — and a limited number of fenced-in off-leash areas — many parks are turned into defacto playgrounds for pooches.

Those who violate the leash law risk a $360 fine, but with only 10 bylaw enforcement officers prowling the city’s some 1,600 parks, many people like Camilla Simonis happily take the risk.

"I know he should be on leash in this park because it’s not an off-leash park, but he’s a very well behaved dog," she says of her Wheaton terrier-poodle cross, Franklin.

"He stays by my side."

Others, including Lee Jacobson, who recently helped design a city park, say they’re upset dogs are chewing up the turf. He said bylaw offices are an ineffective deterrent.

"They have a couple people that come but they usually don’t come prime dog time," Jacobson said.

Trinity-Spadina Coun. Joe Cressy says he knows dog-related complaints are up, but the city can’t spend money on more bylaw officers.

"We have a revenue problem in this city. Whether it’s not having enough bylaw officers to deal with dogs or not having enough money for social housing," Cressy said.

Building more designated dog parks is also an expensive proposition, he said, because each one costs around $250,000.

Cressy said the solution may be forcing private developers incorporate spaces for dogs on their own land. 


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