News Local

New fees at the Bark Park

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

The Bark Park leash-free dog park at Scanlon Creek Conservation area north of Bradford. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

The Bark Park leash-free dog park at Scanlon Creek Conservation area north of Bradford. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

 Some “Bark Park” users are growling, over the new fee schedule posted at the popular leash-free dog park at Scanlon Creek.

Starting this fall, users are being asked to pay $2 per hour in parking fees, to a maximum of $6 a day – or purchase a $50 annual pass, that will give them unlimited access to both Scanlon Creek Conservation Area and the Bark Park.

General Manager of Conservation Lands, Brian Kemp notes that “there's always been a fee structure on this property” - and admission to the Bark Park was never intended to be “free.” Visitors have been asked to pay a $10 entrance fee at Scanlon, on the honour system, or purchase a $50 annual pass - $40 for the Bark Park alone.

“We do some reviews on these, from time to time, based on public feedback, budget,” Kemp explains. Some kind of fee is needed, to help cover the costs at Scanlon, but the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, which owns and operates the conservation area, had received complaints: the gate fee was seen as excessive by users who only planned to be in the park for an hour or so.

Last year, the LSRCA reviewed its fees, for both pavilion and picnic site rentals and entry, and decided to eliminate the gate fee. Instead, the Conservation Authority will charge a parking fee of $2 per hour, to a maximum of $6 a day, at both Scanlon and the Bark Park.

After looking at the systems in place in other jurisdictions, the decision was made to utilize an app-based Mackay Pay automated payment system. Visitors can download the app and pay on their smartphone, pay online at mackaypay.com, or call 1-844-334-7078. Scanlon is zone 3101.

The new fee schedule was originally going to be implemented in June – but the LSRCA decided to hold off until September 6, and provide free access to the park during the summer months, matching the federal program for Canada's Sesquicentennial.

Many people think that Scanlon and the leash-free park are municipally-owned; they're not. “It's a property owned and operated by the Conservation Authority,” which has limited resources, Kemp says. He hopes that users will be understanding, and embrace the new system - “and help support us to continue to maintain that dog park.”