History of ODAWG and Harmony Valley Off-Leash Park
The establishment of the Harmony Valley Off-Leash Park took a lot of work by many people over a 7-year period from 2001 to 2007.
Oshawa/Durham Area Walkers Group (ODAWG) and was established to lobby the City of Oshawa for a small Off-Leash Dog Park in “Orchard Area” of the former Harmony Creek Conservation Authority Property in 2001. At that time, the City was not prepared to make any commitment and the group’s activity level decreased.
In 2005, the City was looking at developing the Harmony Creek property into sports fields and ODAWG was revitalized, presenting to Council in January 2006. The Council was swayed and authorized staff to no longer enforce off-leash walking at the park. The implementation of a designated off leash area at Harmony Valley Park was agreed to in 2007 if an off leash dog volunteer association was established They would have a mandate to regularly monitor park use and etiquette, provide on-going education and awareness of responsible dog ownership and assist in funding of future off-leash area improvements. September 2007 saw the first ODAWG executive elected and the start of a membership drive. The group presented their Proposed Operating Model to the Community Services Committee and the group was endorsed by Oshawa City Council.
Partnership with the City
Touring established off-leash dog parks revealed the importance of developing a working partnership with the City to establish, maintain and organize specific areas where owners can safely walk and socialize with their dogs.
ODAWG has an ongoing working relationship with the City through representatives from the Parks Department. ODAWG are stewards of the property, providing input on park improvements, and assisting in problem solving if necessary. There are regular meetings of the executive and ambassadors and an Annual Meeting is held in mid April to share the activities and finances of the group with park users. An information session of interest to dog owners and park users is also presented at the AGM. An ODAWG Website, eblasts and posters on the Community Bulletin Boards keep members informed and provide a contact point for new participants. There are also Facebook groups run by park users where information and ideas are exchanged. ODAWG has established partnerships beneficial to the membership and provides information and resources regarding responsible dog ownership and care to the local community. ODAWG will also act as a liaison for new groups wishing to establish off leash areas. The City provides liability coverage for ODAWG volunteers.
- Participated in the Oshawa Community Clean-Up annually since 2006
- Provide 120,000 poop disposal bags every year at an average cost per annum of $5500+
- Fostered partnerships with Community groups and businesses
- Canine related information sessions presented annually since 2007
- Built benches and boardwalks
- Produced calendar as a fundraiser to cover the cost of the poop bags since 2010
- Developed Memorial Project to remember the canines who loved the park, now further expanded to include native plantings and benches to remember individuals to whom the park was special
- Successfully lobbied for an accessible trail and enclosed off-leash space
- Participated in the Oshawa Animal Care Advisory Committee
ODAWG is a volunteer group, which relies on the support of the community. Join ODAWG Today!