city place dog park

CityPlace turf war descends into violence as dog owner smacks away camera

A literal turf war has been brewing for months between rule-breaking dog owners and the people who hate them in Toronto's too-cozy CityPlace community.

On Tuesday, the issue of who gets to use the hood's central sports field (and how) came to a head by way of one resident's hand.

The altercation, caught on camera, started when a man approached four people and their dogs in a fenced-off, artificially-turfed section of Canoe Landing Park reserved for human athletics.

While filming, the man rather aggressively confronts the dog owners and makes a sarcastic crack about how only 25 per cent of their pets are leashed.

"Hey buddy, turn around, do something else, eh?" says one woman, urging to him call 311 if he has a complaint to make.

"Can't hear you, sorry," shouts the man filming, at which point a brown dog runs up to him barking. The man calls the dog "scary" and asks who it belongs to. "Sorry, can't hear you!" jokes the woman.

Focusing his camera on the brown dog, the man says "hi" to it. The dog barks again and the man tells it to "f*ck off" three times in a row. At this point, another dog owner comes forward and, after exchanging a few words with the camera man, smacks the phone out of his hand.

The rest of the footage is obscured, but the man filming can be heard saying "don't f*cking lay a finger on me mother f*cker.. don't you f*cking lay a finger on me."

At the very end of the clip, someone who cannot be seen is heard saying "I would advise not touching these dogs."

Smack dab between Bathurst and Spadina, just north of the Gardiner Expressway, the green space has become a de facto off-leash dog park for condo residents who have few other places to let their pooches run free in the densely-packed former industrial area.

Some locals don't approve of dogs being on the field at all—and municipal bylaws are on their side, as signs on the gates clearly show.

The issue has become divisive within the community, with some people arguing that local dogs have nowhere else suitable to exercise and others arguing that the animals make a mess of their sports field.

Fortunately, a potential solution is in the works.

An existing but much smaller off-leash dog play area in the neighbourhood will be upgraded this spring, according to City Councillor Joe Cressy, while a permanent, two-acre off-leash dog park is planned under the Gardiner Expressway some time in the future.

"In a growing and dense city like Toronto, this is a challenge in nearly every neighbourhood where we need more green space," said Cressy to the CBC this week when speaking about the astro-turf war.

"We need to design spaces with the limited space we have for all people, both two-legged and four-legged, and then we also have to share the spaces that we have."

Lead photo by

Art Melon

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