Heather Hamilton, with her two dogs, Chelsea (left) and Spencer, and Kamie Branch (her dogs pictured - Tovi, left, six months, and eight-month-old Nova) have formed a committee to bring a similar park to the Town of Stewiacke. Submitted photos

STEWIACKE – Dogs might soon have a place to call their own in Stewiacke.

Residents in the town and just outside in the county are working together to bring an off-leash dog park to fruition.

Kamie Branch and Heather Hamilton are the driving forces behind the idea, and have already met with people interested in forming a committee to work on the project.

“I moved to Stewiacke in September with my husband and I wanted to get to know the area,” said Branch, who said she had a “wonderful discussion” with Mayor Wendy Robinson. At the end of their meeting, Branch said she asked where the dog park was, and was surprised when she was told there was none.

She said she was informed the idea had been floated around in previous years, but it never succeeded. Robinson put Branch in touch with Hamilton, and the two have been working together since.

“At the time, I wasn’t a dog owner, but a couple of months later we adopted two puppies,” said Branch.

Both women live out in county limits and travel to the Town of Truro numerous times each week to take their dogs to the off-leash park there. Having one locally, they said, will not only benefit them, but the entire community as well.

“There are a lot of benefits to a dog park,” said Hamilton. “In a town like ours, or any town, there are bylaws in place and there are often problems. From the research I’ve done on dog parks, they can alleviate a lot of the problems because people will go exercise their dogs there.”

“My puppies are high energy and need that run and socialization,” Branch added.
Hamilton said having an off-leash dog park shows forward thinking in both economical and social development, and could attract new residents.

“Dogs are huge business. People love their dogs and call them their family,” Hamilton said. “It’s safer for the dogs, and safer for the community.”
During the first committee meeting, there were eight people in total, two of which weren’t even dog owners who want the project to succeed. Both Hamilton and Branch said a parcel of land between the recreation facility and community centre has been offered to house the dog park.

Hamilton expects the fencing to be the most expensive aspect to the project, and could cost roughly $20,000. Fundraisers will be planned to cover the cost of fencing.

There are also other things that could be included, such as picnic tables and shaded areas.

“We hope those things will be donated or built by the community,” said Hamilton.

“As long as it’s safe and the fencing is up, the park will be open,” added Branch. “The rest will fall into place.”

The idea is to have the park run and maintained by the community.

“In my studies and experience, when it’s built from the community, it’s well used and cared for by the community,” said Branch.

With the next committee meeting set for March 24, Hamilton said they’ll be approaching Stewiacke town council about the project, and she’s optimistic there will be some sort of partnership with the town.

Anyone looking for more information or interested in joining the committee can contact Kamie Branch at kamiebranch@gmail.com or 902-221-2802.