Heading into the dog days of summer is an appropriate time for the “Grand O-Paw-Ning” ceremony to mark the completion of the St. Jacobs off-leash park.
The “Woofwich” dog park committee is making it official with an event tomorrow evening (Friday).
Though the off-leash dog park has been open since January, the committee wanted to give the park a proper reception with the recent completion of some renovations.
“We’re hosting the grand opening as a way to bring more awareness that the park is actually there, but to also celebrate that we’ve got our signage and the trails cut,” said Michelle Hilborn, recreation program coordinator for Woolwich and township liaison for the dog park committee.
“So, we’re good to go. Everything is fully-functioning, and we want people to be using it.”
There will be a short ceremony Friday evening at the park, with a few speeches starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting at 7. The committee will also be handing out free grab-bags filled with various canine-related goodies such as treats and waste bags that were donated by a local business.
“And then it’s kind of informal after that as to people can go out and enjoy the dog park, or they can grab the grab-bag and go home – whatever makes the most sense for them,” said Hilborn.
“Obviously we’d like it if they used the park afterwards,” she added humorously.
At the St. Jacobs dog park, people and their pups have unfettered access to about 12 acres worth of open green space they can enjoy. It’s an off-leash park, so dogs are free to roam – but the shrubbery and waterways that edge the park keep them from roaming too far.
The trails have been cut and the signs installed, but otherwise there aren’t many other features, she noted.
“We’ve done some of that on purpose, with a conscious decision not to put in benches or anything to make sure that the dogs aren’t getting territorial, and that it’s being used to help exercise your dog rather than just congregate.”
There are a few rules owners need to be aware of if they plan use the park, designed to insure all the pups are playing nice. The township doesn’t permit treats and toys to be brought into the park, including things like balls and Frisbees, and this is again to keep the dogs from being territorial.
Hilborn also says people need to keep their dogs leashed until they fully enter the park, and clean up after their dogs – which is what the grab-bags are for.
The “Woofwich” dog park committee started off as a three-member group that lobbied the township for the off-leash park, Hilborn explained. There are now 12 members, and with St. Jacobs operational, the committee is now hoping to fundraise about $30-$40,000 for a second off-leash park in the township.
The official address for the park is 65 Water St., just off Hope Valley Trail. Hilborn recommends people park near the St. Jacobs fire station and then make their way south of the trail to reach the entrance.