ODAWG wants Oshawa to re-name Harmony Valley Dog Park after canine champion Clare Ford

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Published February 14, 2023 at 11:07 am

Krispy enjoying the off-leash area at Harmony Valley Dog Park. Photo by Diane Levola

It was just over 15 years ago when Harmony Valley Conservation Area went to the dogs and the City of Oshawa and ODAWG – the organization behind the establishment of the Harmony Valley Off-Leash Dog Park – are pleased as pups that they did.

Now the group (officially the Oshawa Durham Area Dog Walkers Group) wants the City to rename the park after Clare Ford, the only Chair ODAWG has known since its founding in 2001.

Ford got involved in the park in 2004 as a member of a focus group looking into the future use of the conservation area in Oshawa’s north-east corner. At the time the City was thinking of adding sports fields in the park, which galvanized Ford and ODAWG into action.

Thanks to Ford’s “insightful persuasiveness” and tenacity,  the Harmony Valley Off-Leash Dog Park was established in 2007.

”Clare had a vision for the park and has doggedly followed it through,” Deb Foster, ODAWG’s Vice-Chair, said in her letter to City Clerk Mary Medeiros, which eneded up in the hands of the Safety and Facilities Committee.

Today the dog park is visited by dozens to several hundred canines and their human partners every day, with as many as a thousand visitors on busy weekends.

ODAWG, which has built benches and boardwalks, provides poop disposal bags and organizes and participates in a clean-up of the park every year, has set its sights on establishing a third off-leash dog park in the city, with this one at Somerset Park. The city’s second such park opened at Cordova Valley Park in the south end in 2019.

But first is an opportunity to honour the group’s leader and Oshawa committee members are considering the proposal, as well as the plan to establish another dog park at Somerset.

Both proposals were sent to staff for reports.

Clare Ford receiving an award from then-Oshawa Mayor John Henry in 2013

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