Elizabeth Burnett enjoyed a celebration with a friend Wednesday afternoon. She had a hot dog and a piece of cake; Cocoa sampled some doggie treats.

The event was the grand opening of the West Bench Off-Leash Dog Park, situated above the tennis and pickleball courts, a park dog owners — tossed from a reclaimed baseball field — could call their own.

“We’ve been coming for a little while, testing it out and encouraging people to come from the temporary park,” said Elizabeth, who got the park idea rolling with an online petition in 2017.  “It’s good, this is like a second home, a place for me to meet my friends and hang out.”

Hang out they did Wednesday afternoon, with several dozen dogs scampering about in what appeared to be the simple joy of dogs being unencumbered.

“They just want to be free and run — they’re not badly behaved,” said Elizabeth as we watched the merriment. “Whenever we get in the car and drive this direction, (Cocoa) knows where we’re going.”

Elizabeth got more than 500 names on her petition after the Osoyoos Minor Baseball Association made a pitch to have a repurposed ball diamond returned to its care and use.

That got the Town’s attention.

Gerald Davis, the Town’s Director of Community Services, put together an advisory committee — comprised of dog owners and others — and the group got busy building something that would work for all.

“We wanted to make sure the park is big — which it is. We also wanted to make sure we had an area for small dogs and large dogs, so they can take part and not get caught up in all the stuff,” he said Wednesday. “And we wanted to make sure we had these double gates and obviously we wanted to have some water on site as well.”

The Town is still working on a last “want” — making the park wheelchair accessible.

Nevertheless, the multiple double-gated areas look like $120,000 budgeted for the park was well spent.

The trees were groomed and it’s nice to have a bit of shade,” said Mr. Davis. “The grass came up really nice. Last March it was just gravel and look at it now. And we do have plans to add another shelter.

I’m getting a lot of really good feedback,” he said. “There’s a lot of dogs here.”


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