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Exploring the City of Vancouver Dog Parks

Today Matt and I decided to take advantage of the good weather and check out some of the off-leash dog parks that the City of Vancouver has to offer. I’m still working on Avy’s recall in open spaces so exploring the parks in advance of taking her there was important to see if they were suitable for her or not. What I found was a bit surprising.

Queen Elizabeth Park Off-leash Area

The Queen Elizabeth park off-leash area is located on the east side of the tennis courts off of the parking lot on East 37th Avenue. It’s a nice large space with plenty of room for the dogs to run around. The area isn’t fenced but it’s a large enough space that the lack of fencing should not be a problem for most dogs.

The problem with this park is that if you didn’t know where it is in the park it would be difficult to find – it’s not shown on any of the park maps located through out the park. That said the park is a beautiful space, filled with picnic area’s, lots of recreation activities (pitch and putt, tennis, basketball, walking paths and more) and beautiful scenery. It is a lovely place to spend a day.

Nat Bailey Park Off-Leash Area

I’m afraid I don’t have anything positive to say about this particular off-leash “park”. Matt and I walked by it twice before realizing that it was, in fact, a park. Located just beyond the outfield of Nat Bailey Stadium (49.241869 -123.106254 latitude x longitude), the off-leash area shares the gravel overflow parking lot for the stadium.

With no fencing, very little grass and busy streets on both sides I would not feel comfortable running Avy here. It’s also not a very inviting space. With lot’s of beautiful green space around (both Queen Elizabeth Park and Riley Park are a stone’s throw away) I would be avoiding this area as a potential place to exercise your dog.

Note: the City of Vancouver website notes that this park may change when the new parks plan is released.

Oak Meadows Off-Leash Dog Park

This was my favourite dog park that we visited today! Located at 899 W 37th Ave at Oak St. Oak Meadows Park off-leash is located in the centre of the park next to the soccer field. The designated off-leash area is long and narrow and is well signed so you know exactly where the off-leash portion starts and ends.

There is clearly a good community at the park because on the West side of the park there were a number of outdoor chairs set up with a sign indicating that they had been placed there with permission from the Vancouver Parks Board for seniors and dog owners to enjoy. Although the park has both a soccer field and children’s playground nearby, the off-leash area is separated enough by trees and natural barriers that sharing the space is not a problem. I would definitely take Avy to this park.

Quilchena Park

Quilchena Park is a beautiful park located at 4590 Magnolia Street (49.242275 -123.147404 latitude by longitude.) It’s a fairly large park with a ton of activities for everyone in the family. In addition to the dog off-leash area there is a ball diamond, skate park, playground and Frisbee golf course. The dog area is quite large and nice and grassy.

The downside to this park? The Frisbee golf course is located right in the middle of the off-leash zone. Now, there may be some dogs that can ignore a Frisbee being tossed around, but there will be many more who are going to think it’s play time and try to catch it. With the ball diamond being located next to the off-leash area there is a distinct possibility of a dog running into the outfield in the middle of a game.

It appears that the designers of this park wanted to pack as many activities as possible into the area, a nice goal, but not necessarily conducive to a dog park. So if you have a dog that isn’t inclined to chase after Frisbee then this may be a good park for you. As far as Avy and I are concerned, we’ll find another place to play.

Balaclava Park

Balaclava is another beautiful park located on Vancouver’s west side at 4594 Balaclava Street (49.244428 -123.175080 latitude by longitude.) Quiet roads on all sides make this park ideal for dogs and children and there are lots of activities for the entire family – ball diamonds, a soccer field, bathrooms,change rooms and two children’s play structures.

My only complaint about this park is the same as what I’ve mentioned in the others – poor layout. The dog off-leash area is located immediately beside the ball diamond, again with no fencing. While we were at the park there was a ball game in progress and people were BBQing hotdogs for the kids – very attractive to dogs!

The location was a bit better than Quilchena in that there were no other activities IN the dog area, but it wasn’t ideal. A nice feature of the park – local visitors have taken it upon themselves to stock plastic bags at the off-leash sign (next to the garbage can) which I’m sure goes a long way to helping keep the park clean!

That was the extent of our explorations for today.  In the coming weeks as the good weather descends on Vancouver we’ll be visiting additional parks and reviewing them here.  Also watch for full park reviews and feature lists coming soon!

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