There is nothing worse than going out for a walk along a public trail and having to contend with free-running dogs and the droppings they leave behind. That is one of the complaints residents and the Elmira Lions Club have with the Kissing Bridge Trail starting at Arthur Street North and heading west.
“It’s a heavily-used trail and a beautiful part of Elmira but it is taking such a lot of abuse from dogs whose owners refuse to pick up after them and the horses that travel along the route,” said Rachel Wallace-Oberle, a local resident who uses the trail on a daily basis, adding she finds it disrespectful that animal owners do not follow the township bylaws.
Those rules include picking up after dogs and keeping them on a leash at all times on public trails, as owners are liable for their dog’s actions under the Ontario Dog Owners Liability Act.
Both offences carry up to a $350 fine.
Dog owners just have to remember to carry a plastic bag while on the trail and deposit it in the nearest trash bin, said Arthur Woods, chair of the Lions Club trail committee.
“Dogs have been running loose and we have some horses that travel along the trail and this has been a concern for us,” said Woods. “As a club we are in business of service and doing things for the community. We are very happy with the amount of traffic on the Kissing Bridge Trail and our goal is to make the trail as usable and user friendly as possible.”
The trail is used free of charge compared to other recreational activities around town where cost is a factor, said Woods. “We are always concerned about anything that makes them less user friendly and both dogs and horses can make that happen especially with the horse manure and dog droppings.”
The Lions Club have no problem with dogs on the trail, the problem comes when people abuse the area by not picking up after the dogs and allowing their pets to run free, which may scare some people.
“People have an obligation to clean up after their dogs,” said Woods.
Horses are not permitted on the trail because of the damage they do and the manure they leave behind. Nor are recreational vehicles like ATVs, 4x4s and motorbikes permitted on public trails in Woolwich Township for safety reasons.
“We know that some people do ride along the trail occasionally and we do discourage it as these trails are for everyone; horses and people on trails do not blend well,” said Woods. “It is a safety concern.”
Woolwich bylaw officers will periodically monitor trail usage by dog owners.
Anyone who witnesses recreational vehicles on a public trail is asked to call the Waterloo Regional Police at 519-570-3000 and report the incident to the Township bylaw division at 519-669-6101.