Fight to keep Outremont’s dog park

“The city has not committed,” said Célia Grimard, Executive Member of the Outremont Dog Park Association (APCO), about the plans for Mali park when the adjacent Rockland viaduct will be replaced. Gareth Madoc-Jones reports.

Dog owners from the Outremont Dog Park Association (APCO) protested outside Montreal city hall during the council meeting Monday afternoon – with the hopes of pushing the Plante administration to save the Mali dog park – considered one of the largest in the city.

The mayor of Outremont as well as official opposition members presented a petition at the city council meeting – it has over 3,500 signatures to keep the park.

The group says the planning of the work surrounding the Bates sector and the repair of the Rockland overpass doesn’t take the dog park into the consideration and they want answers. The group has been mobilizing to save the dog park since the beginning of the work in the sector in 2006.

“In 2023, it is inconceivable that the future of a green space as unique as Mali Park be decided in a vacuum without the involvement of citizens and the mayor of the borough concerned. It’s time for the Plante administration to commit to maintaining Mali Park in its entirety,” says Laurent Desbois, mayor of the Outremont borough, in a press release sent Monday.

“We know that it is possible to keep this park since we know that a scenario in this sense was under study, at our request,” says Geneviève De Grandpré, co-president of APCO.

“We’ve been working for a few years now for over two years. And there’s such a lack of transparency on behalf of city officials on this issue. It is of great importance to this park. It is the largest park in Montreal. We have mature vegetation for health and mental health for dogs and also for dog owners,” explains Célia Grimard, executive membre of’APCO.

“We believe it is possible to keep the park. It seems that the priorities are elsewhere, but there are residences for elderly people who are here and who come to the park. There’s a community project involving them. We have all generations coming here. […] And that’s troubling us because it will have a major impact on the community. And dogs are part of our life now. I mean, when this regulation went through in 2006, it was not the reality that we have now in Montreal.”

“I am very concerned. […] I’m a dog walker, and I come to this park four days a week, sometimes twice a day, with different dogs. It’s convenient for me. Some of the clients who live very close to this park,” says Elsie Lepp, who uses the park for dog walking.

“It’s a large park. They can run. They can have so much fun meeting other dogs. It’s a green space. […] The dogs love this park – as do I. I’ve met many other dog owner clients or dog owners and some elderly people that enjoy the benches, even though they do not have a dog, they can watch the dogs.”

“It’s very important. I own two dogs, and I decided to adopt my second one because we were close to a park. So without that park it would be extremely difficult for me to manage every day the dogs, because they have to spend their energy, they have to socialize. And to me, it’s a big, major, major, major tool in my everyday life,” says Edison Vallon at Mali dog park.

“Not only that they are socializing with other dogs that you wouldn’t normally be able to meet on the street – it’s a a community point. […] We all meet here and we all have one thing in common we love dogs. In my house, my furniture, my furniture is pretty happy that I bring those dogs to the park. Like without that, I’m pretty sure no more couch, no more beds, no more chairs at home, because they would have too much energy pent up. ”

Montreal Outremont Dog Park protest city hall

Protest in front of Montreal city hall to save Outremont dog park, May 15, 2023. (CREDIT: Gareth Madoc-Jones, CityNews Image)In an email statement, the city of Montreal tells CityNews that: “The reflections concerning the redevelopment of the Rockland Viaduct and the adjoining land, which includes the Mali Dog Park, are being carried out in collaboration with all the stakeholders involved, taking into account all the issues at stake, both in terms of the safety of travel for all users and the importance of maintaining green spaces in a quality urban environment. The city is determined to propose the best possible project for its citizens and for the well-being of animals, the development of sustainable mobility and the consolidation of living environments. The future development will meet all the needs of the sector.”

“The City is currently finalizing a multi-criteria study whose objective is to identify the optimal scenarios for replacing the Rockland Viaduct and redeveloping the land bordering it, including the Mali Dog Park. Among these scenarios, one option suggests the complete conservation of the Mali Dog Park and the other preferred options all include a green space of 8,200 square feet, to accommodate a dog exercise area. The goal is also to protect as many mature trees as possible and to replant large trees if they are cut down. This is certainly an opportunity to rethink the adjacent intersections and junctions, known for their safety issues for soft and active mobility, but also the development of the entire area to meet the needs of the people.”

Montreal Outremont Dog Park

(Courtesy: Facebook/Association du Parc canin d’Outremont APCO)

The Mali dog park is 8,000 m2, includes 80 mature trees and a walkway ring.

“I am very concerned. I’m wondering what kind of dog park will be available after this reconstruction. […] I would love the dog park to remain large like it is now. It’s really the best green space for dogs,” adds Lepp.

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