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23

Jul 2018

WINDOG Endorses New Off-Leash Dog Park Master Plan

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Last week Winnipeg City Council unanimously approved the long-awaited master plan for off-leash dog parks.

 

Dog walkers at Kilcona Park’s off-leash area

 

Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups (WINDOG) President, Donna Henry appeared before Council to endorse the plan and to ask for dedicated funding to upgrade existing dog parks and to create new ones.

Knowing that the City has historically taken funds collected for one purpose and used them for another, the off-leash area advocacy coalition is concerned that unless funding for off-leash dog parks is dedicated, money will be redirected when it’s expedient to do so.

According to Dave Domke, Manager of Winnipeg’s Parks and Open Space Division, which oversees the city’s off-leash areas, the City needs to earmark $300,000 for dog parks in each of the next 6 years. He agrees, however, that until the City develops an action plan for each of its off-leash areas, no one really knows what it’s going to cost to upgrade existing dog parks, let alone create new ones.

Domke says that right now the highest funding priority is to improve safety and enhance amenities in existing dog parks. Earlier this month, he told the Executive Policy Committee that Parks’ goal is to secure off-leash areas as separate spaces, by, for example fencing them. Until that happens, dogs, runners, joggers and cyclists will continue to share off-leash spaces.

 

Football at Little Mountain Dog Park with predictable results

WINDOG has long argued for fencing dog parks and designating them as ‘single-use’ areas where only activities associate with off-leash dog are permitted. Together, these two measures will improve safety and reduce conflicts that arise when off-leash dogs and other park users share the same space.

 

Dogs doing what dogs love…chasing a fast moving object

 

WINDOG believes that the cost of fencing dog parks is minimal.  Kilcona Park Dog Club recently solicited quotes for fencing its off-leash area, and according to Donna Henry, “Our Board was surprised. The work can be done for less than $40,000.  Last month Maple Grove Park Dog Owners Association fenced its dog park for $16,000. Fencing the boundaries of these two dog parks would secure 70% of Winnipeg’s off-leash greenspace.”

If we look at the bigger picture, fencing and upgrading furnishings in existing dog parks may be relatively minor expenditures. The City’s plan does indicate that, from time to time, it may be necessary to purchase land for a new dog park. This might happen, for example, in a neighbourhood with a high dog population that has no off-leash area, no suitable public greenspace, but has privately-owned land that is suitable and available.

As the price of land continues to rise, and knowing that Bonnycastle – the smallest dog park in Winnipeg, and built on City-owned land – cost over half million dollars to develop, WINDOG’s view is that the proposed budget of $300,000 year will not go far.

 

Mayor Bowman fulfills his 2014 election promise to create a downtown off-leash area…

Bonnycastle, a new gated community…for dogs!

Except for Bonnycastle, where no expense was spared on artificial turf designed specifically for dog parks, ornamental fencing and double gates, trees and shrubs, lighting, benches and a drinking fountain,  Winnipeg dog parks continue to be seriously underfunded. It is well-documented that Parks has not had an increase in its service delivery budget for fifteen years. This has led to a decline in the quality of amenities, and many services have had to be reduced or discontinued.  And as resources have declined, the City has increasingly come to rely on off-leash area stewardship groups like those at Kilcona and Maple Grove to raise money for capital improvements and to supply volunteer labour to help with park maintenance.

 

Kilcona Park Dog Club and CITO Geocache volunteers spread wood chips on off-leash trails

Clearly, without adequate, dedicated capital funding, the City simply won’t have the capacity to create new off-leash dog parks to accommodate the growing dog population.

WINDOG and its partners have asked City Council to create a dedicated capital fund for off-leash areas, just as it has recently done for street renewal. However, Henry wants to make it clear that “WINDOG is not asking for a tax increase like the road renewal fund. A modest tenth of a percent of the current tax allocation would yield half million dollars a year. Over the next decade, that’s five million dollars that can be used to create new dog parks and upgrade existing ones to comply with OLAMP standards.”

WINDOG’s proposal to Council comes at a time when the City faces significant financial challenges. With an infrastructure deficit pegged at $6.9 billion over the next ten years, the new Council will have some difficult choices to make. Kudos to Councillor Janice Lukes, who’s already announced that, if re-elected, she intends to support a dedicated capital fund!

 

 Janice Lukes – Winnipeg’s first ‘Super Dog-Friendly’ candidate

 

In the months leading up to the October 24 municipal election, WINDOG encourages dog owners to ask their own candidates where they stand on the question of dedicated capital funding for dog parks. WINDOG will be asking questions too. Once again, as part of its ‘I Own a Dog AND I Vote’ campaign, the coalition will survey candidates and post their responses on its website – along with “Super Dog-Friendly, Dog-Friendly, Neutral, Dog-Unfriendly, and Super Dog-Unfriendly” ratings.

                               Look for the “Super Dog Friendly” icon at windog.ca

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03

Dec 2017

Update – Off-leash Dog Park Master Plan Public Consultation at Kilcona Dog Park

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Thanks to all Winnipeg dog park users who found time this chilly December morning to share their vision for off-leash dog parks with the City of Winnipeg. If you didn’t have a chance to attend the public consultation , please complete the online survey at winnipeg.ca/offleashareas

 

In responding to the survey, please let the City know that in the interest of safety for yourselves, your pets, and others – you support WINDOG’s position that off-leash dog parks should be “single-use”.

 

“Single-use” means that designated off-leash dog parks are for the recreational use of dogs and their families only. Running, cycling, and other incompatible activities are not allowed. Again, in the interest of safety, WINDOG asks that you support the coalition’s position that unsupervised children would not be allowed in off-leash areas.

 Long-time Kilcona Park Dog Park users Ann Gay and Angie Zalondek express concern to Winnipeg Off-leash Area Master Plan’s Project Manager, Rob Zanewich over off-leash area trail conditions and conflicting land uses – such as tobogganing –  in the dog park .

WINDOG Directors Colin Lang and Donna Henry listen to a dog park user’s concerns re neglect of the city’s off-leash areas

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27

Nov 2017

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR WINNIPEG DOG PARK USERS

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City of Winnipeg staff and consultants are holding a pop-up event at Kilcona Park on Saturday, December 2 from 10am to 12 noon. They’re looking for your feedback about Winnipeg’s proposed Off-leash Area Master Plan.

This is a critical time in the evolution of Winnipeg dog parks. Saturday’s event is pretty much the last chance Winnipeg dog owners will have a say in what our dog parks will look like in the future, how they will be managed, and who will have the right to use them. Please  make an an extra effort to be there and add your voice to the call for high-quality, single-use off-leash dog parks.

Under City’s proposed plan, only the smallest dog parks (between .25 and .75 ha) will be single-use. All others, including large regional dog park like Kilcona, Maple Grove and Little Mountain, as well as community dog parks like King’s Park, and neighbourhood dog parks like Devonshire, Bonnycastle and Bourkevale will be multiple-use. That means that runners, cyclists, school groups, picknickers and other special interest groups will still be able to use off-leash areas for their activities.

If there are any issues between off-leash dogs and  other off-leash dog park users, the City deems the dog owner is at fault. For example, if your dog is tempted to chase a bike or a  runner in an off-leash area, the fine is $200.

At last spring’s public consultations, dog park stakeholders including WINDOG asked that all off-leash areas be single-use, set aside for the exclusive use of dogs and their owners. We asked that runners, bicyclists, picnickers, community festivals and other special interest groups not be given the right to use off-leash areas for their own activities.

WINDOG argued that this is a reasonable standard since one in four Winnipeg homes has at least one dog, Winnipeg currently has 10,000 acres of green space,  and City Council has only set aside about 200 acres of green space for dog parks. It is reasonable in the same way that dogs are not allowed on soccer and baseball fields, golf courses, and other special use areas – even when they are on-leash.

In June, WINDOG appealed to the four City Councillors who sit on the Off-leash Area Master Plan Steering Committee  for single-use dog parks – Russ Wyatt, John Orlikow, Ross Eadie, and Mike Pagtikhan. After six months, the Councillors still have not responded.

If you are unable to attend Saturday’s pop-up at Kilcona, please make your views know through the online survey at winnipeg.ca/offleashareas.

Let Mayor Bowman and your City Councillor know that you support single-use dog parks and that for safety, you support new legislation that would prevent unsupervised children from entering off-leash areas.

Please send your emails to City Councillors at the following email addresses:

  • Mayor Brian Bowman – mayor@winnipeg.ca

  • Matthew Allard (St. Boniface) – mallard@winnipeg.ca

  • Jeff Browaty (N. Kildonan) – jbrowaty@winnipeg.ca

  • Shawn Dobson (St. Charles) -sdobson@winnipeg.ca

  • Ross Eadie (Mynarski) – readie@winnipeg.ca

  • Jennie Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) -jgerbasi@winnipeg.ca

  • Scott Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston) – sgillingham@winnipeg.ca

  • Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) – cgilroy@winnipeg.ca

  • Janice Lukes (St.Norbert) – jlukes@winnipeg.ca

  • Brian Mayes (St. Vital) – bmayes@winnipeg.ca

  • Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo) – mmorantz@winnipeg.ca

  • John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) – jorlikow@winnipeg.ca

  • Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) – mpagtakhan@winnipeg.ca

  • Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) – jschreyer@winnipeg.ca

  • Russ Wyatt (Transcona) – rwyatt@winnipeg.ca

If neither option works for you, the City will hold one more pop-up at Cindy Klassen Rec Centre, 999 Sargent Avenue, on December 7 from 4 to 6pm.

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04

Nov 2017

Dog Lovers Call to Action

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YOUR CHANCE TO SPEAK UP FOR YOUR FUR KIDS!

The City of Winnipeg is asking for dog owners’ feedback on its long-awaited proposed city-wide off-leash dog park master plan.The plan is scheduled to go to City Council for approval in 2018.

With your help, the plan when completed, will address the growing interest and demand for off-leash dog parks in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups (WINDOG), of which Kilcona Park Dog Club and Maple Grove Park Dog Owners Association are founding members, expects the plan will create standards for the level of services and amenities for Winnipeg’s  regional, community, and neighbourhood dog parks. These parks are the only public spaces where dogs can legally be off-leash to exercise and socialize  with other dogs and other people.

 WINDOG has asked the City to approve a plan that will ensure dog parks are single-use parks.  WINDOG  believes that  – just as municipal golf courses, soccer and baseball  fields, skateboard parks, and children’s pools and splash pads are all designated for specific user groups – dogs and their families need their own designated recreational spaces.

However, during the planning process, there has been some resistance on the part of City officials and consultants to the concept of single-use dog parks.

WINDOG encourages all dog park users to to complete the City’s survey. Let City officials know your views – why you and your dogs value of off-leash areas and what services and amenities you expect in dog parks. View the survey site and check out the City’s presentation boards at http://winnipeg.ca/offleashareas

Donna Henry

President – WINDOG Inc.

president@windog.ca

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21

Jun 2017

WHY DOG OWNERS SHOULD CARE: WINDOG ASKS CITY COUNCIL TO IMPROVE DECISION AND POLICY-MAKING PROCESSES

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WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Councillor Janice Lukes

Today St. Norbert Councillor Janice Lukes will introduce a motion at City Council that will improve access to information for  Councillors and  the general public, including off-leash area green space advocates like the Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups.

If approved, Councillor Lukes’s motion will ensure that  City Councillors and the public have access to administrative reports at least four business days before they are discussed in committee meetings. The existing bylaw states that agendas and reports should be available at least 96 hours before meetings but that time-frame often includes evenings and weekends when the public service is not available to answer questions about the reports they have prepared.

The amendment, seconded by Elmwood – East Kildonan Councillor Jason Schreyer,  will give Councillors more time to read the reports, and allow them to make more well-informed decisions. It will also allow the public to be more involved in decision-making processes.

WINNIPEG Network of Dog Owner Groups fully endorses Councillor Lukes’s motion. WINDOG’s  submission to City Council supporting the amendment to Section 10(3) of Procedure By-law No. 50/2007 reads as follows:

The Winnipeg Network of Dog Owners Groups wishes to speak in support of Councillor Janice Lukes’s motion to amend Section 10(3) of the Procedure By-law No. 50/2007 to change the timeframe for posting agendas and distributing supporting material for committee meetings from a minimum of 96 hours to a minimum of 4 business days.

The change will provide Council members a more reasonable amount of time to review and reflect on administrative reports, seek clarity from the public service, and provide thoughtful, meaningful input into decision-making and policy creation.

From the perspective of a not-for-profit corporation, it will also allow the public to be more engaged regarding issues that matter to us by giving citizens more time to review documents and register to appear as delegations.

As a dog park activist who has attended her fair share of committee meetings, I have seen how the current 96-hour window works against public engagement and leads to poor decisions being taken at City Hall.

For example, on Thursday, May 8, 2014 the new guidelines for Winnipeg dog parks were released to the public – a mere four days, including a weekend – before the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks met to approve them.

Of all the stakeholders who had an interest in the matter, only two – WINDOG  and the Winnipeg Humane Society – had the resources to review, digest and analyse the contents of the seventy-page document, develop submissions, and make last minute arrangements to appear as walk-in delegations before the Committee.

Both organizations spoke in opposition to the proposed guidelines, objecting to the complete lack of public consultation, identifying inaccurate assumptions, gaps in information, and other deficiencies. The guidelines failed to provide what was required – a framework for the creation,  management, and protection of the city’s off-leash dog parks.

Four days later – on Monday morning, May 12 – when the Standing Committee met, it was clear from the questions that the Councillors asked the Director of Public Works – and from Mr. Sacher’s responses – that most, if not all, had not had time to read the document. Nevertheless the Committee voted to approve the guidelines.

With the benefit of an extra week to review the report, the Executive Policy Committee reached the same conclusion as WINDOG and the Humane Society, noting that the guidelines were flawed, that the report didn’t go far enough to deal with the issues, and that the City had not done a good job in consulting with a broad cross-section of dog owners and other stakeholders.

Three years later and the off-leash dog park saga still is not over. The City paid approximately $20,000 for a report that it ultimately did not approve. Another $100,000 was allocated in this year’s budget for a comprehensive off-leash dog park master plan that will address the deficiencies in the 2014 guidelines. A consultant has been hired, stakeholder meetings have been held, and public consultations are scheduled to occur in the fall.

When the Off-Leash Dog Park Master Plan comes to Council for approval next winter, WINDOG hopes that today’s important by-law amendment will mean that the public will have sufficient time to review, digest and analyse it, and decide if they wish to provide feedback by appearing in delegation. For those that do, the amendment will go a long way in ensuring  they have sufficient time to take their questions to the public service, get the answers they seek,  and prepare their submissions.

WINDOG encourages City Council to support Councillor Luke’s motion. Our Board believes it will result in more informed decisions being made at City Hall and that it will save taxpayers money.

Respectfully,

Donna Henry

President – WINDOG Inc.

 

 

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