The small town feel of Leslieville in undeniable. It was one of the many features that attracted me to the neighbourhood three years ago, calling on my roots from Nova Scotia. The connections that are made here – from residents shopping at family-run stores and farmers’ markets, neighbours connecting at local cafés and parks, business owners hosting neighbourhood events and supporting community – are genuine and lasting. It’s part of the Leslieville culture.
I knew Leslieville was the ‘hood for me, not only because of its inherent character and charm, but also because of its dog-loving nature. As a local small business owner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and licensed dog walker, this community resonated me both personally and professionally. There’s no place I’d rather be. That’s why it was easy for me to get connected and active as soon as I started out here to make a positive impact at the community level. A value I was raised with and practiced since I was a kid candy-striping at the local seniors’ hospital and odd fellows home, later taking me to animal shelters across Canada volunteering with adorable dogs for many years.
Greenwood Dog Park was a place where I connected with fellow canine professionals. I soon came to realize this bustling park needed some TLC. With numerous reported issues, health concerns and quality of life problems associated with the crushed granite ground cover at the dog park, I linked up with local dog walker Stacey Grieve to rally behind this cause. We’ve been working with the City since 2012, bringing community concerns to ‘the powers that be’ and finally got Parks & Recreation on board to partner with us to replace the surface of the dog park. Ditch the Dust was born! The new pea gravel surface will make Greenwood Dog Park a safe, healthy, enjoyable space for all users. But it comes with a hefty price tag of $50,000 to overhaul and replace the ground cover, with the City contributing $20,000 to the cause, leaving us with the bulk of the funding to provide.
This year, with the help of dog walkers Lorrie Holmes and Kelly Manis, our small volunteer group has produced some lively events to help Ditch the Dust at Greenwood Dog Park and engage the community. The outpouring of support from local businesses for our Comedy for a Cause show at The Duke was tremendous. We were overwhelmed with how many small businesses offered to get involved through raffle prize donations. And the house was packed with local residents who attended the event, letting us know this is something that is important to Leslieville. Our ‘Change for Change’ drive in local shops and cafés has allowed us to engage and create awareness; our Yard Sale & BBQ had lots of friendly faces out during the Leslieville Street Sale; and our Get Your Groom On campaign let us connect with more community professionals to raise the much-needed funds.
But what we’re really excited for is The Ditch the Dust Dash – an ‘Amazing Race’ style event throughout Leslieville for people and their pooches this coming Sunday, June 1s from 1-3pm. Just like the television show, this event will have various stops throughout our ‘hood where participants will perform tasks with their dogs and pick up clues directing them to their next destination. We have Ditch the Dust Dash trophies and bragging rights for top performers; a prize valued at $1,200 for the Top Fundraiser; swag bags, giveaways and freebies for participants – a fun-filled day to support our community, bond with your dog and connect with your neighbours!
If you’re not able to attend our events, there is always our online charitable donation page where you can help us Ditch the Dust for a charitable tax receipt of donations of $10 or more. Let’s keep the momentum rolling for our park, our neighbours and our four-legged friends!