The City of Toronto is running a study to find out how the City’s existing Dogs Off-Leash Areas (OLAs) can be improved to accommodate an increasing human and dog population.

Project Timelines

There are three phases:

  1. Spring to summer 2019: Review common issues, give potential solutions and present best practices
  2. Summer to fall 2019: Discuss 10 local Off-Leash Area case studies and draft recommendations
  3. Ongoing:  Review feedback and consultant’s final report

This timeline is subject to change.

With the number of people and dogs in Toronto growing, the use of dogs off-leash areas (OLAs) continues to grow. The Parks & Recreation Facilities Master Plan (2017) recommended the City develop criteria for improving existing dogs off-leash areas.

Study Goals

  • Improve existing OLAs through better design, maintenance and operation
  • Encourage healthy relationships between dog owners and non-dog owners
  • Elevate OLAs as spaces that provide a healthy, safe, accessible and sustainable environment
  • Develop guidelines to ensure consistent maintenance and operation across Toronto
  • Develop design recommendations that can be applied to all existing OLAs
  • Improve community involvement and develop future ongoing partnerships

10 Sites

As part of the study process, the City will choose and review ten (10) case study sites (pup-ups) to understand how local challenges and opportunities could help inform the Study’s recommendations, which will apply to all OLAs city-wide.

The 10 sites are:

Accommodating Dogs and People

The City considers:

  • Dog and human safety, health and enjoyment
  • Harmonizing uses in parks and meeting a diversity of needs
  • Cost, including design, construction and maintenance
  • Environmental impacts, such as foliage protection and surface erosion
  • Accessibility and feasibility
  • Feedback from park users

Design, Operations and Maintenance Considerations

The design of an OLA and its maintenance are interconnected. As each OLA has its own challenges and opportunities, tailoring design elements and maintenance programs will be an important consideration of this study.

Potential elements of a successful OLA

Two overlapping circles. In one circle there is a list of design considerations: accessibility, drainage, drinking water, gates and entries, fencing, furnishing, lighting, shelter, signage, size, surfacing, topography and vegetation. In the other circle, this is a list of operations and maintenance considerations: communication, cost of on-going maintenance, enforcement, life cycle, repairs, stewardship, trash collection, user education, volunteer off-leash associations and waste bins. The overlapping area reads: potential elements of a successful off-leash area.

Design considerations:

  • accessibility
  • drainage
  • drinking water
  • gates and entrances
  • fencing
  • furnishing
  • lighting
  • shelter
  • signage
  • size
  • surfacing
  • topography
  • vegetation

Operations and maintenance considerations:

  • communication
  • cost of on-going maintenance
  • enforcement
  • life cycle
  • repairs
  • stewardship
  • trash collection
  • user education
  • volunteer off-leash associations
  • waste bins

Staff are reviewing the results of the case studies and public consultation in the consultant’s final report.

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September 15, 2020

Virtual Stakeholder Meeting

Download the:

October 17 to October 28, 2019

‘Pup’ Ups in 10 Sites

Review the summary of feedback received from the Pup Ups.

The Pup Ups were drop-in sessions where park users learned about and shared feedback about the Study and its Preliminary Recommendations.

A number of factors informed the scheduling and timing of the Pup Ups, including

  • advice from the Dogs Off-Leash Area representative for each of the 10 OLA case study sites on when their off-leash areas are regularly used.
  • ensuring a range of morning, midday, afternoon, and weekend dates
  • timing that would enable both those who work 9-5 jobs and those who do not to attend
  • availability of daylight hours
  • availability of resources
Example Pup-up Panels

October 16, 2019

Stakeholder Meeting 3

The Study’s Preliminary Recommendations were presented. Feedback was collected, including recommendations about design operations, maintenance and administration.

Approximately 12 people attended the meeting, including representatives of Dog Owners’ Associations and commercial dog walkers.

September 9 to September 29, 2019

Public Survey

The first public survey asked for feedback from the broader public on common issues, potential strategies to address issues, and draft recommendations related to the improvement of OLAs city-wide.

August 21, 2019

Stakeholder Meeting 2

This meeting provided an update on the project and presented and gathered feedback on:

  • examples of designs, operations, and maintenance best practices from other jurisdictions
  • a proposed structure and approach to case study profiles
  • a revised proposed case study site selection criteria and proposed case study sites

Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, including Dog Owners’ Associations, dog walkers’ groups, and others.

June 20, 2019

Stakeholder Meeting 1

This meeting introduced stakeholders to the Study and presented and sought feedback on:

  • a preliminary best practices review
  • draft criteria to select case study sites
  • a proposed approach to a public-facing survey and Discussion Guide to inform the Study

Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, including members of Dog Owners’ Associations, dog walkers’ associations and others.

Your ideas, opinions and knowledge will help us improve the City’s existing Dogs Off-Leash Areas.

Stakeholder Group Meetings

The City and its consultant team will meet with representatives of Dog Owners Associations and organizations that have an interest in OLAs design, operations, and maintenance. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss common issues, potential strategies to address issues and draft recommendations. The fourth and final stakeholder meeting is expected to be held in early 2020.


In February 2020, the City launched a second city-wide online survey that presented and collected feedback on the Study’s Final Draft Recommendations.