Proposed downtown dog park plan shelved

  • Dec. 10, 2014 4:12 p.m.

The proposed off-leash dog park which was set to be located in the City’s downtown has been put on hold.

City staff have concluded that there is no perfect site in the downtown area for such a development. City staff also noted there isn’t a high enough density of dogs in the downtown area to warrant the park at this time.

Trevor Poth, the City’s parks superintendent, said the two existing dog parks – Three Mile Bend and The Oxbows – are very popular in the City and adding a third off-leash dog park would prove to be successful as well.

“We are of the philosophy if we build it, they will come,” he said. “The way we do that is by having large sites with extensive trails and very unique features.”

He added in recent years residents have requested a different type of dog park than what is currently available in the City.

“These parks are referred to as urban dog parks. These parks are really focused on a high concentration use – high volumes of people with high levels of human and dog interaction, in a very condensed footprint. These often take place on rooftops and they often take place on streets.

“The important thing to know is because of the very intense use, they require a specific design and construction.”

A downtown off-leash dog park has been in the works for sometime. In 2013 through the capital budget process, council adopted the design and construction of the dog park in the downtown. That same year, City staff reviewed potential sites in the downtown area. A community engagement campaign was also launched.

Potential sites that have been identified that would be suitable for a new off-leash dog park in the downtown include the detention pond, north of the RCMP station (4606 51st Ave.), the Arlington parking lot (5022 49th St.), Barrett Park, southeast of the Kinex Arena (4701 39th St.) and the old Boy Scouts’ Hall (5321 47th Ave.)

“The sites were selected based on availability and City ownership, but also we looked at proximity to existing users as well as opportunities for development and servicing.”

Poth added the City also held focus groups with potential users, downtown business owners, vet clinics and the SPCA, among others, to help get feedback for the project.

“The groups came back and said they were looking for a very high standard of amenities, a focus on user experience, a real focus on site cleanliness because of the reduced footprint and a look at the safety of the site especially for pets,” he said.

“Some of the concerns that came up were definitely associated with the potential of odour, noise, environmental issues and land use challenges for adjacent property owners.”

Poth said there are a number of opportunities for a project like this and there is a high level of community support for the project, but at this time the dog density in the downtown doesn’t necessarily warrant a dog park at this time.

“There was also a low level of public support from some of the residents in some of the downtown residential areas to have an adjacent off-leash facility near their homes. There is no current site that we have identified that we would call the perfect site.”

City council voted in favour of using a community development approach to identify and develop neighbourhood dog off-leash areas as funding becomes available approved through the 10-year capital plan. The remaining approved capital funding for the downtown dog off-leash area will be returned to the original funding source.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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