A proposal that would allow dogs to run free in a number of city parks is on the agenda today as the parks and environment committee meets at city hall.

The proposal, brought forward by Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, calls on the city to investigate the feasibility of instituting off-leash hours in select city parks.

In a memo addressed to members of the parks and environment committee, Minnan-Wong cited a similar policy in New York City, in which dogs are allowed off-leash in city parks until 9 a.m.

Under the Toronto Municipal Code dogs are currently forbidden from being off-leash in city parks at any time of the day.

“In New York, off-leash hours served to significantly decrease the frequency of dog owners walking their dogs off leash during the day when the parks are being used for other activities while at the same time meeting the demand for more recognized off-leash opportunities on the city,” the memo stated. “The benefits of off-leash exercise for dogs are numerous and help contribute to well rounded, socialized and obedient dogs.”

Currently, Torontonians looking to walk their dog off leash must attend one of the city’s 54 dog parks, however, in his memo Minnan-Wong said that doing so just isn’t feasible for everyone.

“For a number of dog owners, going to an off-leash area is not a daily occurrence as they are out of walking distance and must be accessed by car,” he said. “The City of Toronto should be promoting safe and healthy off-leash exercise for dogs by meeting the current demand that exists for more off-leash opportunities.”

If accepted by the parks and recreation committee, Minnan-Wong’s proposal will be considered by city council as a whole on Nov. 27.

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