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Jan 2015

Brenda Leipsic Park – Letter of Appeal

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The following is the letter that was sent to Gord Mackintosh on Jan 16, 2015

Brenda Leipsic bulletin board

January 16, 2015

Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups
246 St. Anne’s Road
Winnipeg, MB
R3M 3A4
VIA EMAIL: minconws@leg.gov.mb.ca

Gord Mackintosh – Minister
Conservation and Water Stewardship
330 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
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.

Sincerely,

Jordan Lobe
President – Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Group Inc.

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