Recently (02-28-2018) I emailed the Town of Collingwood Clerk about my concerns for safety issues at Nip Spooner Park on Georgian Manor Dr in Collingwood. As a resident I believed the Town park was not safe given the fact that coyotes frequented the park. I do not use the park myself but I felt a sense of community responsibility once I realized their was danger in our area from coyotes. I was aware of the threat and problem, in my mind, so I felt the Town of Collingwood should also know about this issue and hopefully share my concerns and take appropriate action. Reasonable expectations?
I did not get a direct reply response to my email of 02-28-2018 but a comment was provided in response to another of my emails on March 02, 2018. It was stated that “Because of the ongoing concerns / sightings around Georgian Manor Drive, the Town will be posting signage in the area”.
I suspect the sign that will be posted in the Nip Spooner park will be the Town’s coyote awareness signs.
It is reasonable to state my concern over the saftey of the park on my street is being address by a coyote awareness sign. What I do not understand is that I am aware of the issue and some parents with kids are aware of the issue so they don’ t use the park. The Town’s response is to make others aware that coyotes may be present and to help people deal with the situation. According to the Town’s policy makers if we are aware that coyotes may be at Nip Spooner Park (which we know they actually are there – not may be) then in the Town’s mind we have been served appropriate notice that we can deal with the coyotes. In addition a Coyote Watch Canada meeting, for those who attend, will help educate us to scare off coyotes when present.
Now that we know by seeing coyotes frequently at the park or we will know by signage which will be posted at the park at some point in time (does not appear to be urgent) what are parents told to say to their kids from the education programs available through the Town of Collingwood – MNRF and Coyote Watch materials?
Kid: Mom can I take Rex (small family dog) to Nip Spooner Park for a walk and play?
Mom: Yes be careful. Coyotes may be present. As we know if you see coyotes at the park; do not feed them, keep Rex on a leash, if they approach appear large and aggressive, make loud sounds, back away slowly, and do not run home.
Kid: Will they hurt me?
Mom: According to government provided stats and opinions it is “unlikely” that coyotes will attack people. You are more likely of be hit by lightening.
Kid: Have coyotes attacked kids?
Mom: We are told it is “unlikely” but we are also told that coyotes are wild animals and should be treated accordingly MNRF risk assessment emails
Added conversation which would not happen based on government provided information for coexistence.
Mom – but I was provided with several cases in which coyotes attacked and bit young kids like you. How would this change the discussion and actions by the mom and kid?
I have been made aware of three incidents partly on my own research as I am concerned and provided by a community website https://www.coyoteconcernscollingwood.com
Kid: What does treated accordingly mean. What should I do?
Mom: We have discussed what the signs say. You should obey the signs.
Kid: What happens if I get scared and run home?
Mom: Don’t run because the coyotes will think you are prey and will more likely attack you like a rabbit.
Kid: Will the coyotes hurt Rex (small family dog)
Mom: Coyotes commonly attack small dogs according to the MNRF who is a government agency mandated to protect animals. We are told to keep dogs on leashes and if they are attacked it is acceptable behavior by wild animals such as coyotes. If they attack Rex the government will not do anything to the coyote.
Kid: I would be very sad if they attacked Rex.
Mom: You should be able to scare them off it you yell at them and throw something at them.
KId: Would coyotes attack Rex if I was walking with him on a leash?
Mom: I think it could happen but not sure. They say coyotes commonly attack small dogs.
Additional information. Recent attack on a small dog being walked on leash by a older women in Markham.
Kid: I am not a very good thrower. What happens if I don’t hit them? Will they hurt Rex?
Mom: We are told that this is an acceptable risk and our parks are safe. I trust the government knows what they are doing and would not put you at risk. We are suppose to coexist with coyotes and continue to enjoy our parks. I guess a few dogs will suffer because of coyotes.
Kid: I think I will stay home and play video games.
Back to the emails to the Town of Collingwood regarding the park.
On March 16, 2018 I met with Town Clerk Sara Almas and Dean Colver Director, Parks, Recreation & Culture, The Town of Collingwood. After the meeting Dean requested joining coyote concerns Collingwood Facebook group and is currently a member. I trust Dean will give us some additional insight into the park situation in Collingwood and why Nip Spooner park is safe in his mind.
In advance of the meeting I sent an email with some ideas to discuss – break the ice.
We did not discuss my email in advance of the meeting. Unfortunately our meeting was not productive as we were at very different ends of spectrum on what should be done about coyote concerns in Collingwood. Hopefully the debate on what should be done with coyotes vs educating residents on how to coexist will continue. The Town believes we need to be educated on coexistence and we need to educate the Town on the threats we feel should be addressed. Resident concerns and threats should not necessarily be assessed based on other communities or what is a standard across Ontario or other cities in Canada. The residents of Collingwood have the right to have a say in what they deem to be a threat and to have these threats acted on.
One interesting discussion was around my request to change the Town coyotes signs to indicate danger vs awareness. I suggested the signs are misleading as the presence of coyotes creates a danger. The Town’s perspective was more aligned with considering “potential danger”.
Below are some of my thoughts on the meeting. I am sharing this because there are many people who would like to attend a meeting with these individuals and debate the need to take action on our coyote concerns and remove coyotes from our city.
Email exchange with Town of Collingwood Dean Colver;
Back to the topic at hand – are our parks and trails safe?
In the case of Nip Spooner park my position is it is not safe for kids with or without parents and not safe for small dogs. In my mind it is unacceptable for kids to have to deal with unpredictable wild animals who have attacked kids. I would not allow my children to play in this park. I believe coyotes are an immediate threat to public safety by being around the park. if parents were to approach the park and see coyotes they should call the OPP at Call 911 or Collingwood OPP at 705-445-4321 and tell hem that you feel threatened by coyotes and believe there is an immediate threat to your safety – please respond.
By posting the coyote awareness sign at Nip Spooner Park will this in effect, to many parents, be an unofficial closing of the park?
I believe the Town of Collingwood has failed to act on the need to close the Nip Spooner park until coyotes are removed from the area. If residents are concerned about threats from coyotes then they can trap coyotes on their own properties. This is how it is left with the Town.
The Town has responded to their position to the Nip Spooner park by email response that signage will be added. I invite Dean to comment on this in our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoyoteConcernsCollingwood/ to help us understand why the Nip Spooner park is safe for kids to play and under what conditions should parents enter the park and use it with their kids.
As a parent; I would not take my child near this park in Collingwood.
If public opinion will help keep our parks safe then please email the Town of Collingwood with your concerns;
- http://www.collingwood.ca/clerk email email@example.com
- Email Collingwood councilors http://www.collingwood.ca/council and ask them to address the coyote concerns of Collingwood by removing them form Collingwood and keeping them out.
- Sign an electronic petition to ask for action. The petition will be emailed to the Town of Collingwood Clerk.
- Present a deputation to the Town of Collingwood Council http://www.collingwood.ca/node/2265