A Newton park known for attracting illegal activity is set to become a destination for dogs.
A vacant lot in the area of King George Boulevard and 70 A Avenue in Surrey has become a magnet for illegal dumping, prostitution and drug use.
Rob Miyoshi works for Team Tidy, one of two community workers tasked with keeping the area clean. He said he sees more than just litter.
“I see a lot of down and out people and a lot of prostitution,” said Miyoshi.
Residents say the activity has been bothering them for years.
“I would like to see the prostitution moved along, I would like to see the drug activity moved along and I would like to see something done about these empty lots, make it more family friendly which I know that’s in the works right now,” said Tabitha Nasmith, ACORN Neighbourhood’s chair.
Now the plan is to make the space welcoming for families – and dogs.
Value Property Group, the Metro Vancouver company that now owns the lot, will spend $40,000 to turn it into a dog park. It’s an idea some residents, the city and the Newton Business Improvement Association are welcoming.
“I think it’s about time that we tried new initiatives to see if we can fix the problem in the area,” said Philip Aguirre, the BIA’s executive director.
The city of Surrey is also throwing in a $3,000 enhancement grant.
No one is actually sure whether this idea will work, as it hasn’t been tried in Newton before. It’s why some neighbours aren’t sold.
“Tell the district to go and do a survey because a dog park’s not gonna work here,” said Diane Monds, who’s lived in the area for more than two decades.
But the city says once this space becomes a park, there’ll be more consequences for those who misuse it.
“Because it becomes a defacto city park, that allows our by law officers to patrol the park and issue tickets to anybody that’s in the park after dark, which are the bylaws in the city,” said Surrey city councillor Bruce Hayne.
The “Bark Park”, as it is being called, is set to officially open sometime this spring.