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Sep 2014

Who’s Dog Friendly and Who’s in the Dog House!

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your vote counts

Winnipeg’s off-leash dog park advocacy coalition has taken another step forward with its campaign to elect a dog-friendly mayor and city council on October 22. WINDOG has released the results of its “I own a dog AND I vote!” outlining candidates’ vision for improving Winnipeg’s off-leash recreational green space and highlighting their track records.

Top dogs are mayoral candidate, Brian Bowman, North Kildonan Councillor Jeff Browaty, and St. Charles Councillor, Grant Nordman. Each was awarded “super dog-friendly” status – Bowman and Nordman for their innovative thinking and bold plans to create two new off-leash dog parks if elected, and Browaty for his commitment to identify locations in North Kildonan and Transcona that can be re-purposed as neighbourhood off-leash dog parks.

WINDOG also awarded seventeen Council candidates and mayoral candidate, David Sanders “dog-friendly” status.

At the other end of the spectrum, five of the seven mayoral candidates are in the dog house. Four candidates consider off-leash dog parks such a low priority that they didn’t bother responding to the survey.

The candidate with the worst track record is Gord Steeves who served as St. Vital’s City Councillor in 2006 when two-thirds of Maple Grove’s 34 hectare off-leash dog park was hived off to create new athletic fields. A month before the 2006 municipal election, Steeves attended Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports’ ground breaking ceremony at Maple Grove Park to announce that the City had awarded the group a $63,000 grant to develop ultimate Frisbee playing fields, paving the way for the province to kick in an additional $43,000.

Maple Grove dog owners were left with 12 hectares of unimproved off-leash space – much of it in the less desirable lowlands along the Red River that flood for several weeks each spring and are a sea of mud for even longer.

All “dog friendlies” have expressed their support for WINDOG’s proposed off-leash area model – a three-tiered system of neighbourhood, community and regional dog parks – each tier increasing in the size of the space, level of service and amenities. (See August 23 news story for details of the model.)

Check out the candidates’ responses to the survey  by clicking on Election 2014 and follow the links.

By voting for dog friendly candidates on October 22. Winnipeg dog owners can do what Vancouver did in 2008. Fed up with too few off-leash parks, with poor services and amenities, dog owners launched their own “I own a dog AND i VOTE!” campaign. They elected a dog friendly Mayor and Council and replaced all the “dog-unfriendly” Parks Board Commissioners with individuals who supported off-leash dog parks. Today Vancouver a much pleasanter place for dogs and dog owners, with an abundance of high quality dog parks conveniently located throughout the city. Vancouver is considered a leader in off-leash area management.

At least 40% of Winnipeg households have a dog.  That’s a an awful lot of votes.

Dog lovers can make a difference!

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