COMOX, B.C. – The Town of Comox has taken its first step towards the possible creation of a dog park.

At their meeting on Wednesday, council unanimously approved Councillor Maureen Swift’s motion, asking staff to prepare a report that will outline possible locations and costs for creating a dog park and/or a leash optional park.

There are currently no off-leash parks, fields or areas within the Town of Comox boundary.

“When we do this, I want to make sure we keep in mind the Northeast Woods and look at an either off-leash or leash optional part of that,” suggested Councillor Ken Grant.

Grant said the top end of the woods past the Town’s public works building “might be the ideal spot.”

Swift created the motion to give dog owners a place to take their canines to run and play, as lot sizes shrink across the Town.

“In denser living, we need places for these animals to run around,” Swift said. “Ideally, I’d like to see two areas. An area that is like a trail area and an area that is an open space where the dogs can run after balls and let everyone socialize.”

Swift said she has spoken a person who is willing to assist in the creation of a dog park “either in kind or financially with creating a park somewhere.”

Swift was also motivated by her experience at a dog park in Victoria: “It was a very social place, there was a combination dog park and playground and it was not even fenced. It was wonderful.”

“And I thought, ‘Why can’t we do something like that?’ ”

She then referred to a recent incident in the Northeast Woods, in which a nine-month-old lab was allegedly bear sprayed by a man who was upset that the puppy was off leash in the area.

“I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding of our Northeast Woods because people do regard it as an off-leash area and it isn’t,” she said.

“I lived in Parkwood (Estates) for three years which is adjacent to (the) Northeast Woods and I never saw a dog on leash when walking through there and I’ve never had any problems. But I know there are people who are genuinely terrified of dogs and especially in the trail area.”

She said staff would “have a broader understanding of the challenges that we are faced with, and get a report back.”

Councillor Nicole Minions said there is a groundswell of support in the community for the creation of a dog park.

“I, myself, am not a dog owner but just being out in the community and talking with people it seems to be something that’s almost non-controversial,” she said. “I’ve heard maybe one out of 100 be on the negative side. It does seem to be something that the majority of the community is actually standing up for, which makes it easier for me to want to at least look into the report and the costs and the long-term of it.”