If you're a dog living in a downtown high-rise, answering nature's call isn't always a walk in the park. Often it's more of a squat in the bushes behind the entrance to the parking garage, a quick dump on some postage-stamp-sized patch of grass, or even a surreptitious stop on the sidewalk. If owners aren't stooping and scooping with enthusiasm, it doesn't take long for things to pile up.
And with new condos popping up all over the city -- close to 25,000 new units were built from 2001 to 2004 and more towers are going up -- the poop appears to be a growing problem, especially near the lakeshore, where much of the new development is concentrated.
"Every park around here, there's more dogs than people," says a waterfront parks worker who asked not to be named. "Most pick up, but some don't. You go to clean up a park, and it doesn't matter what you do -- you get [excrement]on your boots." Lee Darren, who was walking his dog Kola this week near his condo on Queens Quay West, says most of his pooch-owning neighbours are "pretty good, but we always find piles."
Concern about the proliferation of canine organic matter has led property management firms to take steps to deal with the problem.
Janice Pynn of Simerra Property Management has just been given the go-ahead to order two "doggie stations" for the Waterclub at Queens Quay and York Street. These specialized poop bins will be positioned at the condo's back doors in an effort to improve the pickup rate.
Other condos, such as the Fairmont in Mississauga, provide a fenced-in dog run.. But the Fairmont "still has the burnt grass, the owners who won't pick up after their pets," says manager Sharon Milsom.
The Palace Pier on Lake Shore Boulevard is battling the dog-dirt war on multiple fronts. The building has a "doggie compound" with concrete walls, lots of room to walk and an old fire hydrant. For pooches that prefer free-range excursions, bags are provided at the front door and owners are regularly reminded to do the right thing, manager Marie Milligan says.
But it's the exception that proves the rule, so if you're out for a walk among the homes that reach for the sky, be sure to keep your eyes on the ground.