City committee's plans for off-leash dog parks draw debate
A city committee has voted for new guidelines aimed at improving existing off-leash dog parks, while paving the way for new ones.
Committee member Coun. Scott Fielding said Winnipeg needs four to five more off-leash areas.
But dog advocates say the new guidelines for things like fencing and signage don't go far enough.
They want a three-tier system like Calgary that includes several neighbourhood parks, plus larger community and regional spaces.
Winnipeg currently has 11 off-leash dog parks.
But some of them are temporary spots, with developments set to transform them or they occupy land not owned by the city, which could be closed at any time.
"You put a dog park on somebody else’s land - there's development pressure. The city goes, ‘Oh, too bad, we can't have a dog park here anymore,’” said Bill McDonald from the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS).
“We believe that dog parks are a right. They’re the same as all city parks,” said Donna Henry from Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups (WINDOG).
They want the city guidelines set in stone and say a plan should be formed to put smaller off-leash dog parks in every neighbourhood for better access, with larger community-based and regional ones to complement those.
"It separates dogs from people who are afraid of dogs. It gets dogs off the streets. It gives them their own spaces,” said Henry.
The city said that plan would be too costly and there might not be enough green space to accomplish it.
WINDOG dog parks should be a core service and the WHS agrees.
Two members of the city committee, Coun. Brian Mayes and Coun. Scott Fielding, called dog parks amenities and not core services at Monday's meeting.
- with a report from Jeff Keele