Barking at City Hall

By  | October 17, 2011 | 19 Comments | Filed under: Local News, Politics

I don’t think that I need to go into all of the problems the City of Cambridge has had with its dog parks. Suffice it to say that the City has been less than successful with its various attempts to provide a place for our four legged friends to play.

You would think that if someone came up with a viable solution the city would bend over backwards to help make it happen.

Carey Coffin came up with a solution. What she proposed was a 6000 sq ft facility on Hespeler Rd.  Fully fenced, separate kennels for small, medium, and large dogs supervised at all times.

When she contacted the City of Cambridge Planning Department she was given the wrong information, which resulted in costly delays in her opening, she feels she was treated very rudely by city staff.

Carey kept notes of her dealings with this issue, this is what she wrote.


Here is a basic outline of the events that occurred and delayed our opening by Planning Services Department Building & Enforcement.


  • Called June 2nd  to find out if any permit would be required to build  pens in a warehouse to rest dogs
  • Was told they would have to research and get back to me..2 days…later Mary Kairn called back and it was deemed that we needed a permit, and the cost would be $.64 per sq.ft. based on appx 685 sq feet. Plans were needed, I stated this did not make to much sense as the pens were basically not permanent structures—this was met with a rude reply from Mary Kairn and I was told in no uncertain terms that this was how it is!
  • Plans were drawn up by us and submitted June 15th2011 – appx 5 working days later it was deemed that they were not acceptable and that we would have to hire an architect.  I asked if they could recommend an architect, and was told no it was up to me to find one.
  • I was advised by Mary Kairn that “just because we had an architect draw up the plans that it would not matter if the building was not up to fire codes….I called my property manager found out they had just completed a 3 stage upgrade and complied to fire codes…was told what I said did not matter, that they would look into it.
  • Drawings were submitted 10/07/11…by my father (72 yr old man) he was fortunate enough to speak to Tanya Gies and we then found out we needed an application filled out, I called Tanya, who actually took the time to fill it in while we were on the phone, also found out from her that NO in fact we did not need to pay per sq.ft, and that all we were after was a minor building permit, cost $92.00
  • I called twice to check  on the status of the permit, as we had not heard back, and was rudely told NOT to call that THEY would call me when a decision was made.
  • The building permit was finally received Aug 9th, 2011, ….I called Aug 11th to set up the final inspection, It was inspected and passed Aug 16th 2011.
  • Mary Kairn was rude to deal with in person and on the telephone throughout this, I did in fact complain to Tanya Gies, but it was never apparent that anything was done.



This is not the first time we have heard a complaint about new businesses having problems getting permits, in fact, Nicholas Ermeta is currently working on helping a new Water Store in his ward who is having some trouble. Perhaps something can be set up between the Small Business Centre, which is located in City Hall and the Planning Department to help as some kind of a liaison for this type of situation.

Here is a link to Carey’s site.



19 Responses to Barking at City Hall

  1. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I had a very time writing this one without a wisecrack about Hags, or a comment about a “Doggy Day Care” in a “Flea Market.”

  2. Carey L. Coffin October 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    It’s A Dog’s Life-Doggie Day Care is now open (August 22/11) after months of dedication and hard work to get our doors open legally with permits in place and the time has finally come to let Cambridge know that there is a safe, secure fun filled location that ensures your pet will be well cared for by our knowledgeable handlers regardless of what your lifestyle commands from you. Unlike the dog park that is not monitored we ensure that all our 4 legged friends have a safe secure size approperiate area to rest and play, as well as up to date vaccines on file. We pride ourselves on providing a clean sanitized enviroment for them to run, play and rest as required in their home away from home.

  3. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    …and Hagarty, they have your picture on the wall with a warning not to let you on the property.

  4. curmudgeon October 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I hesitated, reconsidered reread and decided it must be said. Carey was definitely given the wrong information right from the start. First she contacted the wrong people, it should have been the Arts & Cultural folks. Secondly the wording was wrong, she should have stated that a place was needed for our four legged friends to “put on a play”. The artsy folk would have called Dougie and in no time at all the taxpayers would have been on the leash for a lavish place for the pooches to perform. It wouldn’t be stuck on Hespeler Road in an old warehouse. Nothing politically oriented ever gets built on Hespeler road, no convention center, no city hall, no seniors complex et al. A downtown Galt parking lot would be reclaimed to erect the needed facilities.
    No fear of Hags intruding. The current “digs” is located in Galt and he isn’t allowed to cross the bridge alone.

    Good Luck with your venture Carey I agree it is a much needed enterprise but if you are planning a gala grand opening please forgo the BBQ.

  5. Brett Hagey October 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Teach your dog Hamlet in this town and Alex will build your kennel, then send Doug the bill.

  6. Mrs. R.D.M. October 18, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I recently had the unfortunate experience of supporting a family who attended a meeting at city hall. I continue to be truly disappointed at the treatment this family has received at the hands of various city staff. Several were rude, unsympathetic and plain ole power tripping. They certainly say all the right things but with a tone that is truly demeaning and unkind. The city will be lucky if this family doesn’t decide to go forward to the Human Rights Tribunal and with a repeat complaint of discrimination of a special needs child. Fortunately for the city, the family in question is non confrontational.

    That long vent is acknowledgement that I have no doubt that Ms. Coffin was treated equally rudely. City staff named some empathy/customer service training!

  7. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Will you rednecks please get over Drayton? It’s coming, and I look forward to sitting in front row on opening night.

  8. curmudgeon October 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

    please get over us rednecks we are here and were staying. You sir are welcome to sit anywhere you choose, lord knows there will be lots of available seats. Finally as per your comment even us rednecks realize that when attending any venue that has a stage it is recommended that you look forward. I recall some military general telling his troops to “charge on and never look back, that way you don’t realize you are alone”.

  9. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Pickup driving, karaoke drinking beer swilling rednecks who think culture is a bottle of Baby Duck and a Black Velvet Elvis painting.

  10. Robert Ross October 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

    How about “101 Dalmataians the Musical”?, I know where to get the Dalmatians, and they can stay with Carey at Its A Dogs Life in between shows.

  11. curmudgeon October 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    great idea. I hope the dogs will be singing and not Scot or Hags. Oh I forgot Hags is on a wanted poster and Scot will be in the front row.

    (more than 1 footnotes)

    Your sense of humor is akin to mine.
    Yes I will be calling to do coffee within the next few days.
    I don’t indulge in stimulants after 11am so is morning good for you?

  12. Robert Ross October 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Maybe we somehow get Facetious Lee in there to sing a lil diddy as well.

    Thursday morning is good for me, gimme a call


  13. Brett Hagey October 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    It makes good journalism to resort to insults, Mr. Ferguson. Obviously you’re aspiring to pick up a real job, at say, Fox News?

  14. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Brett, you can’t insult Rednecks, they’re too dumb to get it.

  15. Brett Hagey October 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I got it, guess that makes me a rare breed of Smart Redneck.

  16. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    …if the cowboy boot fits…

  17. Brett Hagey October 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Speaking of cowboy boots, I’ve been wearing some down at @occupytoronto on behalf of the good citizens of Cambridge, we’ll be heading back up Friday if all goes well. A lot of folks were talking about just these kinds of incidents. Seems bureaucratic incompetence is rampant in many places.

    The examples cited here and in Saint James Park boil down to ineffective means of communication between departments and workers, inefficient access to timely information regarding procedure and protocol, and a general arrogance of sorts, for the citizenry in general.

    Cambridge is supposed to be the #1 high tech city according to IBM, so it makes you wonder how close to the ground the bar is set in that regard.

    Democracy needs an upgrade, and these are examples of why.

  18. Scot Ferguson-Barber October 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Brett, that’s where our other intern, Brendan, is right now.(Although I doubt he’s wearing cowboy boots, he’s not a redneck.)
    We look forward to hearing from both of you when you get back.

  19. curmudgeon October 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    As an ex-government employee I know where your coming from. Our motto was “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureacracy”. The Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his
    level of incompetence, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently” and from there they become politicians. Uhh… the last part was added by a redneck. I just can’t help it. Its an addiction like Baby Duck or a cold, bubbly Galt Knife.

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