Dog poop is driving Torontonians crazy
By Tricia Strachan
15 November 2016
If you’re that person who takes your dog out for a walk in the city,
lets it run off-leash in areas it’s supposed to be on-leash, and can’t
be bothered to pick up its poop, your fellow Torontonians may have a
serious bone to pick with you.
You’re only adding to the city’s pet-poo woes—and not the kind that Drake was running through the 6ix with.
“It’s not (totally) their fault though,” says Sarah Gertler. “There just simply aren’t areas to deal with this stuff.”
That’s what Gertler, an architecture graduate student at the University of Waterloo, is working to fix.
CityPlace—seven dogs per floor
For over a year, Gertler has been compiling research on how
high-density communities in Toronto, such as condos, can deal with the
city’s growing pile of poop. Her thesis focuses on the Concord
CityPlace condo development, which an informal study found to have
about seven dogs per floor.
That adds up to a whole lot of shit. And the neighbourhoods with more people than green space feel it the most.
“CityPlace only has one major park for how many thousands of people,”
says Gertler. “Almost every single flower bed in the area has a sign
that says ‘No dogs allowed’… [Condos] just don’t really know how to
deal with it because it’s not something the areas were planned for.”
To her, dogs can and should be integrated into the pre-existing infrastructure of communities like CityPlace.
“Architecture can be both helpful to us and the animals we live with,” she says.
clover is particularly resistant to dog urine
For example, clover is particularly resistant to dog urine, so it could
be planted along buildings for a designated doggy restroom.
Separating dog waste from the building face through a buffer zone, and
plantings like clover, could begin to alleviate the issue.
improving the drainage of balconies could create mini-backyards
Gertler also believes that improving the drainage of balconies could
create mini-backyards for dogs, and that interventions like these
should be spread out “to different areas, (so) no single space will get
a lot of high concentration.”
“It’s a pretty new crisis, because when you think about dogs, you don’t
think of them as being problematic,” she says. “But in such a dense
situation, they really are.”
Pet poop is more than just annoying. Dog crap left on sidewalks and in
parks is carried along by rainwater and storm sewers, and eventually
ends up in our lakes.
According to the Canadian Public Health Association, pet poo is full of
nitrogen and phosphorous, which encourage algae growth in bodies of
water. As that algae grows, it limits the amount of sunlight for
underwater plants, reducing the amount of oxygen in the water for fish.
Gertler notes that using bioswales—planted areas in the sidewalk that
collect stormwater—can “deal with the run-off water from the streets,”
while making it a nicer street, and providing “areas for dogs to
actually go to the washroom.”
At this point, many Torontonians are really sick of dog shit. Last
month, a company of dog-poop detectives emerged by the name of Poo
They can create a DNA registry for condo boards looking to nab dog
owners who haven’t scooped their pup’s poop. For $50 a dog, they’ll
swab and register all the dogs in a building, and if any errant turds
turn up, they can actually match it to the dog in question.
Dog waste is a problem condo dwellers continue to be vocal about. In
2014, the City of Toronto consulted with condo residents, and they
found that Torontonians in the downtown core were particularly peeved.
They received numerous photos of dead grass, and realized there was a real need for developing bathrooms for our furry friends.
Last year, Animal Services Enforcement responded to 998 excrement and
unsanitary calls. And complaints about dogs have even prompted
CityPlace to ban any more pets from being brought into two of its
“There’s a lot of problems associated with high-density living that
need be dealt with,” Gertler says. “My thesis almost uses the dog as a
surrogate to correct some of the larger issues of the condominium
development…(and) this is one of the more contentious ones that have
Meanwhile, the City of Toronto began a dog waste pilot program back in 2007.
The enduring part of that project is the Green Bin Program, which
collects organic waste and turns it into compost. Animal waste is one
of the accepted items, and the program services nearly half a million
In 2014, city planners wanted to introduce bylaws that would make
including pet amenities mandatory for condo developers. In October of
this year, Gertler’s architecture professor at the University of
Waterloo, Mona El Khafif, also spoke out about the need for bylaws.
That would be a good start.
“As long as there are dual purposes to a lot of the interventions, it’s
not just about accommodating (the dogs),” says Gertler. “It’s making
the entire city better.”
Just as much as this issue should be built into developers
plans...really the responsibility falls on the dog owners. You can buy
poop bags from the dollar store or reuse your produce bags. As a dog
owner I am very diligent to pick up after my pooch whether it be in the
park behind my condo, or on the street or wherever she goes.
The park behind my condo is ridiculous. Many signs say that the park is
NOT an offleash park and owners continue to have their dogs off leash.
My poor pup has been attacked and jumped on a number of times by larger
dogs. And the dogs off leash poop wherever, and the owners turn a blind
eye. The park is busy with children during the summer, which makes
matters even worse.
I am motivated every time to clean up after my dog. I once saw a woman
in a wheel chair motor through the grass to pick up after her dog. If
she can pick up after her dog…why can’t the able bodied people that use
this park do the same. I have reported the issue a number of times to
local council and they’ve done nothing. With the colder wetter weather
coming, the park is going to become even more disgusting.
The Iceman Cometh
Its becoming more acceptable it seems in this city to let your dog shit
wherever it pleases and leave others to pick it up and its high time
the fines for this were steeply increased. How would these people feel
about humans defecating wherever they please and letting others pick
up, that is before it starts to stink to hell?
Its truly a reflection of the kinds of pigs that live in this city and
one can only imagine what their own households look like if they can't
even show a little respect to their community and those they share it
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