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Mar 2017

Engaging the Public – Winnipeg’s Off-leash Dog Park Master Plan

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Work has begun on the city’s long-awaited off-leash dog park master plan (OLAMP).

The new plan, a first for Winnipeg, is expected to serve as a decision-making tool that will ensure off-leash areas are planned, designed and operated in a strategic and sustainable manner.

This morning the City’s OLAMP Project Manager, Rob Zanewich, told the Standing Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks that a contract has been awarded to MMM Group and planning has begun.  Zanewich expects the new plan will be ready this fall.

MMM Group is one of a handful of firms that have been involved in local off-leash dog park planning and design. In 2015 the company coordinated public consultations regarding the future of Charleswood Dog Park, which will be affected  by the William R. Clement Parkway extension. MMM is a recognized expert in community planning and infrastructure design, and a respected sustainability consultant.

To encourage public engagement the City is working on a new website with an online survey. Public consultations are expected to be held in May or June.

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Jan 2017

City Moves Forward on Off-leash Dog Park Master Plan

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City Moves Forward with Off-leash Area Master Plan



As dog lovers get ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of Winnipeg’s first off-leash dog parks in 2018, they are also celebrating the fact that, after all these years, the City will finally have a framework for managing its off-leash area recreational greenspace. The long-awaited off-leash area master plan (OLAMP) will be presented to City Council this fall.

happy dance


The plan, first proposed by Parks and Open Space five years ago, has been a long time coming. Yesterday WINDOG’s President, Donna Henry, questioned a committee of City Council about the status of the project.  Parks and Open Space Manager, Dave Domke informed the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks that a consulting proposal has been received and work on the plan is expected to begin in February.



Winnipeg’s dog community had great expectations that a meaningful management plan would be produced in a timely way. But over the years there have been a number of set-backs that have delayed the project. In 2012 the City issued a contract for development of what many in the dog park community have referred to as “dog park plan lite”, a simplified version consisting only of non-binding guidelines.

what you need to know


The guidelines were released to the public in 2014; however they were never officially adopted by the City. Council’s Executive Policy Committee (EPC) agreed with WINDOG that the guidelines were seriously flawed and declined to approve them. Instead, EPC identified a need for a full-fledged comprehensive plan that would address the concerns WINDOG had raised about the original guidelines. Last March City Council approved $100,000 for the plan.

The new plan will include a vision, goals, and objectives for Winnipeg’s off leash dog parks and will identify options for funding, and standards for servicing them.

Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks Councillors Mike Pagyakhan (Chair), Russ Wyatt, John Orlikow, and Ross Eadie will oversee development of the plan. Councillors have noted that dog parks have been a sensitive issue and the public needs to be consulted, a concern shared by WINDOG.

People are passionate about dogs both ways. Dog lovers love them, others don’t love them so much;  the challenge is to make sure both sides are heard through a public consultation process and their concerns are taken into consideration.

Addressing WINDOG’s concern that the public had no opportunity to provide input into the 2014 guidelines, this year will see a broad range of consultation activities including meetings with stakeholders (including all off-leash dog park stewardship groups and the Winnipeg Humane Society), open houses, a web survey to solicit views on dog parks, and newsletters.



Why is an Off-Leash Dog Park Master Plan Important?

In the absence of a city-wide framework for off-leash area management, there is no consistency in how the city’s dog parks are being managed.

  • The City has ruled that there will be no expansion to Little Mountain Dog Park, and no new dog parks in Point Douglas, Mynarski, or Old Kildonan, wards where none exist, until the master plan is in place.

  • During the winter, the City has asked Little Mountain Park Dog Club volunteers to empty dog waste litter baskets  – a violation of health and safety legislation – or do without them. In contrast,  the high-quality, high capacity underground waste bins at Kilcona and Maple Grove are emptied by City employees.

  • Sturgeon and Silver Dog Park has been  “temporarily” closed for the past year and a half.

2016 Dog Park Closures

Meanwhile, the City continues to  fund dog park projects in other parts of the city: planning and public consultations on re-configuring Charleswood and Brenda Leipsic dog parks, and installing fencing around King’s Park off-leash area. In the midst of the moratorium, Council has selectively approved the creation of two new dog parks:

  • Bonnycastle Dog Park (downtown) opens in 2017.

  • Devonshire Dog Park (Transcona) opens in 2017.

Winnipeg’s off-leash area stewardship groups are key stakeholders in the planning process. WINDOG looks forward to participating in the conversation that will shape the future of our city’s dog parks and make off-leash recreational green space accessible to all Winnipeggers.

dog parks poster

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Mar 2015


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On Monday, March 23 City Council will hold a special meeting to approve Winnipeg’s 2015 Preliminary Operating Budget and the 2016-2020 Five Year Forecast.

Two budget items are of particular interest to Winnipeg dog owners – the creation of a downtown dog park this year and the development of a city-wide comprehensive off-leash dog park master plan in 2016.

During the election campaign Mayor Bowman and seven of the fifteen Councillors who were elected expressed their support for WINDOG’s 3-tiered model for municipal dog parks.


Bowmans with Indiana
Because of the work the Mayor and Councillors Allard, Browaty, Mayes, Morantz, Orlikow, Sharma and Wyatt have done in championing Winnipeg dog parks, and improving and expanding the city’s off-leash recreational green space, WINDOG has awarded each of them our coveted “dog-friendly” status.

Today WINDOG sent the following letter to Mayor Bowman and each of the Councillors asking them to approve funding for these off-leash area initiatives. Contact your Councillor and ask him/her to vote to approve funding for these important initiatives. Follow up on Monday and find out how your Councillor voted.

Re: Downtown Dog Park and Off-leash Area Management Plan

On behalf of WINDOG, the coalition of Winnipeg’s off-leash dog park stewardship groups, I am writing to ask you to vote to approve the $300,000 in the City’s 2015 Preliminary Operating Budget that is earmarked for a new downtown off-leash dog park and the $100,000 in the City’s 2016-2020 Five Year Forecast identified for the creation of a comprehensive off-leash dog park master plan.

Last year Winnipeg lost its only downtown off-leash area when the City decommissioned Stephen Juba Dog Park, re-purposing recreational greenspace along the river for commercial and residential development as part of the Waterfront Drive Development Plan.

The City’s vision for its waterfront is all about people, waterfront living, economic development and tourism. Creating an off-leash dog park in downtown Winnipeg is about making the heart of the city a more attractive place for people to live and visit. It’s about offering the same amenities to a growing number of people who choose to live downtown – many of whom have no access, for a variety of reasons, to the city’s mainly suburban off-leash dog parks.

There is also a pressing need to develop a comprehensive master plan for the city’s off-leash areas that identifies types or tiers of dog parks and establishes a process for creating them. The plan must provide guidelines for dog park management and identify standard levels of services and amenities that the city will provide to each tier.

Winnipeg enjoys approximately 10,000 acres of green space. Less than one percent has been set aside for dog parks. Approximately 40% of Winnipeg households have a dog – but many have no access to off-leash recreational green space.

For those that do, the experience can be disappointing, even dangerous. The parks are unfenced and much of the land that has been designated for off-leash use is marginal. There are few, if any amenities in these parks and service levels, including garbage collection, vary widely.
Winnipeg lags far behind every major city in Western Canada in number of dog parks per capita, with one off-leash area for every 66 thousand residents. Brandon, with one dog park for every 18 thousand; and Portage la Prairie and Thompson with one dog park for every 13 thousand are leading the pack in this province.

Great cities have great parks for all their citizens. By voting in favour of funding for a comprehensive off-leash area master plan, you are working to ensure the citizens of Winnipeg have wonderful places where they can exercise, socialize and relax with their dogs, families and friends.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter- your time is appreciated.


Donna Henry
Vice-President – WINDOG Inc.

WINDOG’s Model

• Many small neighbourhood dog parks in walking distance of resident’s homes

• A mid-sized community dog park in each ward

• A large regional off-leash area in each quadrant of the city

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Oct 2014

Dog Owners Win with a Dog-Friendly City Council

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And the winners are…

Yesterday’s election results indicate Winnipeg’s dog community can look forward to a much brighter future and high quality off-leash areas throughout the city.

In July Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee already voted to create a new comprehensive  off-leash area management plan after rejecting the administration’s much more limited and seriously flawed dog park guidelines, which were developed without public consultation. WINDOG has asked that this time  the City consult with its citizens in an open, transparent process.

Winnipeg’s Mayor-elect and seven City Councillors  have indicated their support to WINDOG’s 3-tiered model for dog parks.WINDOG’S model proposes many small neighbourhood off-leash areas within walking distance of residents’ homes, a mid-sized dog park in every ward and a large Kilcona-size regional dog park  in every quadrant of the city.

Winnipeg now has two “super dog-friendly” community leaders: Mayor – Brian Bowman and North Kildonan Councillor – Jeff Browaty. And there are six “dog-friendlies”:
Charleswood – Marty Morantz
Old Kildonan – Devi Sharma
River Heights /Fort Garry – John Orlikow
St. Boniface – Matt Allard
St. Vital – Brian Mayes
Transcona – Russ Wyatt
In the “dog-unfriendly” camp, Fort Rouge –East Fort Garry’s Jenny Gerbasi and Janice Lukes (St. Norbert). Both are strong supporters of Winnipeg’s bike lobby.  In 2012 Transcona’s only off-leash park was closed and re-purposed as a link in Winnipeg’s Active Transportation Network.  Gerbasi also supports residential development and a bus rapid transit route through the Parker Wetlands that will close Brenda Leipsic Dog Park.

Six candidates didn’t bother to respond to WINDOG’s survey, indicating that off-leash dog parks are a very low priority for them – Mike Paktaghan (Point Douglas), Shawn Dobson (St. Charles); Jason Schreyer (Elmwood – East Kildonan); Ross Eadie (Mynarski); Scott Gillingham ( St. James); and Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre).

Don’t despair if you live in a dog-unfriendly ward. Speak up! Let your Mayor, your City Councillor – and WINDOG – know what you want for off-leash dog parks in your part of the city.

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