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City of Winnipeg Animal Services Agency – A Dog’s Best Friend!
Nine-week-old Mandy cuddles with an Animal Services Officer after the puppy was thrown from a moving vehicle.
Adorable adoptables Noah and Eva were found near the corner of Ellice and Wall
Animal Services Adoption/Volunteer Coordinator Lorna Verschoore with adoptive family
A matted cat pulled from the ashes by firefighters is transferred to Animal Services.
• educate the public about responsible pet ownership
Erosion of Winnipeg’s Off-Leash Recreational Green Space
WINDOG has called on City Council to address the alarming loss of Winnipeg’s off-leash recreational green space by ensuring adequate funding is available in the 2016 Capital Budget for the city’s first comprehensive off-leash area management plan.
Off-leash space continues to shrink rapidly under the watch of a recently elected “dog-friendly” Mayor and Council. Over the past few years the city has lost approximately 35% of its off-leash space.
Despite the City’s highly-publicized plan to open a new half-acre dog park in the downtown area and another one-acre park in Transcona, Winnipeg’s off-leash green space continues to shrink at a disturbing rate. In recent months 40 acres of off-leash space has been lost at Brenda Leipsic and 12 more at the dog park known as Sturgeon and Silver. Dog owners have done the math – 1.5 acres gained, 52 lost. Some of the loss is temporary; some is permanent.
While the City administration is unable to provide exact figures, municipal maps indicate at least 80 acres of off-leash space were lost when Little Mountain and Maple Grove were reduced by more than half their original size and Transcona’s Buffer Zone and Stephen Juba dog parks were closed.
With the latest closures at Brenda Leipsic and Sturgeon and Silver, Winnipeg’s off-leash green space has shrunk from approximately 380 acres to less than 250. Moreover, the distribution across the city is uneven; over half of the City’s off-leash space is at Kilcona Park.
The 12 acre off-leash dog park at the intersection of Sturgeon Road and Silver Avenue in northwest Winnipeg was closed last August for the construction of a traffic roundabout to improve traffic flow.
Sturgeon and Silver intersection before roundabout
Plan for roundabout construction
Sturgeon and Silver Dog Park lies on the western fringe of Murray Industrial Park. The off-leash area is located on land that the City has designated as a street right of way. That means this parcel – like Charleswood, is not reserved for parkland or green space, but rather for road construction.
In recent years there has been much activity near Sturgeon and Silver, including construction of a four-lane divided expressway to serve Winnipeg’s growing inland port. In 2013, CentrePort Canada Way opened, with an extension to Sturgeon. Silver Avenue will also be extended. The current closure of the dog park is temporary, but at some point, the closure will be permanent.
Nancy Ellen Noren organized a petition, protesting the construction of the roundabout and lack of public consultation.
On January 21, the City closed Brenda Leipsic Dog Park for construction of the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor through the Parker Wetlands. Leading up to the closure, WINDOG joined the Brenda Leipsic Dog Parkers, the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Parker Wetlands Conservation Group, dog owners and area residents, in appealing the Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship’s decision to issue environmental licenses to the City. The province hasn’t ruled on the appeal but Manitoba Hydro has begun work to relocate its transmission lines in preparation for corridor construction.
The City will re-open a much smaller version of Brenda Leipsic Dog Park in the fall of 2019. At 20 acres, the new off-leash area will be half the size of the original dog park.
Critics say that, in downsizing Brenda Leipsic, the City has not taken into consideration the significant increase in the number of people and dogs that will be using the park when a new residential development opens across the street from the off-leash area. Their concern is that the replacement dog park is not large enough to accommodate the increase in use.
The closure of Brenda Leipsic leaves River Heights-Fort Garry ward without any off-leash space. A temporary dog park, which Gem Equities architect Lawrence Bird describes as “unofficial”, has been established on private land owned by real estate developer, Andrew Marquess.
Dog owners have access to the area until Gem Equity begins construction of approximately 1700 low, medium and high density residential units. Gem Equities held an open house last night to unveil conceptual plans for development of the Oak Grove subdivision.
Gem Equities open house board. Yellow – Oak Grove subdivision which serves as a temporary, unofficial off-leash area. Green – City of Winnipeg 2019 replacement dog park.
Great cities have great parks for all their citizens. Mayor Bowman and those City Councillors who have identified themselves as “dog friendly” need to fulfil their commitment to provide high quality off-leash recreational green space if they expect the support of Winnipeg dog owners.
Council’s first step is to ensure that adequate funding is available in the 2016 Capital Budget for the city’s first comprehensive off-leash area management plan. Its second obligation is to stop the practice of establishing temporary off-leash areas like Sturgeon and Silver and Brenda Leipsic on road allowances and Hydro easements and create permanent dog parks located on designated parkland.
WINDOG ASKS CITY COUNCIL TO FUND DOWNTOWN DOG PARK AND OFF-LEASH AREA MASTER PLAN
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.
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.
Vice-President – WINDOG Inc.
• 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
Brenda Leipsic Park – Letter of Appeal
The following is the letter that was sent to Gord Mackintosh on Jan 16, 2015
January 16, 2015
Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups
246 St. Anne’s Road
VIA EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gord Mackintosh – Minister
Conservation and Water Stewardship
330 Legislative Building
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Attention: Minister Gord Mackintosh
Re: Environment Act Licence No. 3121 – City of Winnipeg – Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor – Stage 2
The Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Group Inc. (WINDOG) appeals your decisions:
a. To issue Environment Act Licence No. 3121 dated December 18, 2014 to the City of Winnipeg for the development of the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor (SRTC), as submitted by Dillon Consulting on behalf of the City on April 17, 2014.
b. Not to recommend a public hearing for this project on the grounds that environmental concerns raised by the public have been addressed through the mitigation measures outlined in the proposal and in the conditions of the licence.
WINDOG is an incorporated not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to advocate the establishment and maintenance of humane off-leash recreational opportunities; and sound off-leash legislation, policies, practices and issues on behalf of Winnipeg dog owners. Our members are Winnipeg off-leash dog park stewardship groups.
The Parker Wetlands is home to Brenda Leipsic Off-Leash Dog Park, a 6.45 hectare (15.94 acre) enclave that was designated in 2008 in recognition of former Deputy Mayor Brenda Leipsic’s work in establishing the park and her commitment to providing children, families and their pets with safe, beautiful places to play. It is the only off-leash area in south-west Winnipeg and is a central location for hundreds of dog owners who live in that area of the city.
WINDOG is concerned that Winnipeg’s high-quality off-leash recreational green space be preserved. We insist that the local community that uses the park and the broader community of citizens concerned with the protection of this special natural area have the right to be consulted. Key stakeholders include our own organization, the Brenda Leipsic Dog Parkers off-leash area stewardship group, the Winnipeg Humane Society and the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee.
Most of Winnipeg’s off-leash areas are located on marginalized lands – former landfills, road allowances, lands adjacent to rail lines and in the case of Brenda Leipsic, along a hydro line. In the absence of a comprehensive off-leash area management plan, the City administration has no framework for decisions it makes regarding the establishment, closure or relocation of Winnipeg’s dog parks. Each decision is made on an ad hoc basis. The City does not consult with the public before closing or downsizing off-leash recreational green space. With the routing of the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor – Stage 2 through the Parker Wetlands, Brenda Leipsic Dog Park be closed. The City has not consulted with dog park users regarding its plan to designate an alternate off-leash area in the neighbourhood. The people that use the park need to be consulted before a final decision is made.
Public consultation is based on the well-established public policy principle that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. Stakeholder engagement is a vital part of democratic governance. WINDOG is concerned that the consultation process that was followed with respect to this license application makes a mockery of that principle.
A public hearing is a mandatory requirement of the Manitoba Public-Private Partnership and Transparency Act and therefore it was a requirement for the City of Winnipeg when it applied to the P3 Canada Fund for the SRTC – Stage 2 for federal funding. I attended the “public hearing” held by the City’s Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works (IRPW) on June 3, 2014. The purported hearing failed to comply with provincial requirements. The Councillors present – Swandel, Sharma and Gerbasi – did not even attempt to make a serious presentation about the scope and magnitude of a project estimated to cost over $1 billion over the next thirty-five years. Registered citizens were allowed ten minutes to make comments and ask questions. They were told not to expect answers and they received none.
Although WINDOG is aware that the Environmental Approvals Branch considers the location of off-leash dog parks to be outside the scope of the Environmental Act review process, we nevertheless request that a public hearing for this project be convened on the grounds that the City of Winnipeg’s June 3, 2014 did not provide a reasonable opportunity, as required by law, for members of the public to comment and have their questions and concerns addressed about the costs, benefits, viability and risks associated with the project.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter- your time is appreciated.
President – Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Group Inc.