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22

Mar 2015

WINDOG ASKS CITY COUNCIL TO FUND DOWNTOWN DOG PARK AND OFF-LEASH AREA MASTER PLAN

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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.

Regards,

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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