GUELPH — The city on Thursday announced a draft of the Leash Free Policy, outlining the framework for creating areas for off-leash canines and the rules to accompany the changes, a key platform item of the Mayor Cam Guthrie for his re-election campaign last year, who called for fenced in dog parks.

“We want to thank residents who participated in helping to build the draft Leash Free Policy,” Manager of Open Space Planning Luke Jefferson said in a press release from the city, explaining staff “heard loud and clear from our community that it was important to create separate spaces for dogs in our parks and green-spaces.”

The off-leash report will be added to the May 23 Council agenda before the staff report heads to Council on June 24, Jefferson added. Those residents that wish to delegate on the issue can register online by June 21.

Part of the two-term mayor Guthrie’s platform when running for re-election in 2018 was to create fenced-in dog parks so that owners could let their pets off leashes.

As of right now, there are eight leash-free areas in the city but none of them have been fully fenced in and lack water stations. With the new policy, staff have laid out three areas where a fenced in and leash-free area for canines could be set up: Bristol Street Park, Peter Misersky Park and Lee Street Park.

Residents told The Guelph Post that they are enthusiastic about the decision. There does not appear to be much resistance to the proposed change, with over 50 per cent of respondents in a survey last year saying that the lack of a fenced in area for dogs is the top concern.

Other concerns included there not being enough leash-free areas in the city at-large and canines wandering out of the designated areas — an issue that could be solved with fences.

Reporting by Eli Ridder.