Q1: Please describe what you have done in the past to serve the interest of Winnipeg dogs and dog owners - either in your own ward or in the city.
1) Funded two projects at Maple Grove Park, the off-leash dog park in my ward, and the second largest off leash park in the city. These projects were funded after city consultations with the Maple Grove Dog Park Owners' Association. These funds were used to improve the parking lot area for the dog owners, and to install in-ground waste receptacles, to reduce the workload of club volunteers in terms of waste removal. 2) I have met with the Maple Grove Dog Park Owners' Association both in conjunction with the 3 other main user groups at the Park, and informally as I have attended club barbecues at the park each year since my election (I have learned not to take my older son who was displeased when a dog tried to eat his hot dog - lesson learned the hard way) 3)Along with Coun Sharma, I organized a meeting on the future of Little Mountain Park, the city's third largest off-leash dog park. Why? as this park is across the city from my ward. Because dog owners came to me because there is no ward councillor assigned to Little Mountain Park, as it owned by the city but lies entirely within the RM of Rosser. I have become a champion for this "orphan park". We had a very good meeting with users of the Park, including many dog owners in late May, 2014. Since then Coun Sharma and I have put forward a motion at Council (a report now being prepared by city staff) to expand use of the trails by off-leash owners, and to extend hours/improve water quality at the washroom building on site. 4) As chair of the Mayor's Environmental Advisory Committee, (which organized the May 2014 meeting), I put forward the issue of Little Mountain Park for discussion and MEAC has called for a councillor to be appointed to represent Little Mountain, and for the city and province to look at funding sources for Little Mountain. I have spoken with provincial government elected officials about trying to get funding to improve the building or other facilities at Little Mountain. 5) When the issue of "gopher poisoning" at Little Mountain Park came to light earlier in 2014 I took the lead on Council in demanding answers from administration about this practice, and I believe that the city should not be using such measures where there is any potential danger to people or to dogs ( a dog ingested some pellets that were wrongly used by city contractors at Little Mountain). 6) I did not vote for a recent motion to have the city spend another $100,000 on another consultant report about dog parks, as I would prefer to see the money spent in actual dog parks, not on a consultant.Q2: Does your ward have an off-leash dog park? If not, do you know why not?
My ward has the city's second largest off-leash dog park at Maple Grove Park.Q3: If you are elected, will you increase the number of dog parks in your ward. If so how will you do that? If you have specific locations in mind, please identify them.
I would like to add another off-leash park or two, probably smaller parks as Maple Grove is already the city's second largest off-leash park. IN terms of location, there would need to be consultation with area residents, in order to minimize pitting one group of neighbors against another.Q4: Winnipeg lags behind many major Canadian cities in terms of the number and size of its off-leash areas, and level of service and amenities it offers dog park users. Why do you think this has happened? If elected, what would you do to change this?
The city has tended to create open spaces without much thought to their use. I think we are improving in this regard, with better recreational facilities being created. In terms of future planning - I think dog owners and WINDOG have done a good job at putting the need to consider off-leash parks onto the city's "radar" so that planner and councillors are aware of these needs as they plan for the future.Q5: Do you support WINDOG’s model for Winnipeg off-leash dog parks? Please provide reasons. If so, what will you do to implement it? If not, why not?
I support the model of larger regional parks, probably 4 of these, with smaller neighborhood parks, so yes I support the model. I think this is a good mix of providing larger centres like Maple Grove along with other sites that owners can walk to with their dogs. THe larger parks like Maple Grove and Little Mountain are not easily accessible by foot.Q6: What specifically should the City do to create off-leash recreational space in older, well-established neighbourhoods?
Just as infill housing can be controversial, so too can infill of other uses, as the experience at Voyageur Park has shown. I think we need to look at spaces that are not near schools and not near other services where patrons might feel threatened. Additionally we have open spaces that are street rights of way - but this is the sort of planning that WINDOG has rightly criticized for being short-term planning. The short answer is "think creatively and consult" as introducing a park where there is great neighborhood opposition will not be a long-term solution. Also the documents I have seen suggest that there is a "gap" in terms of a park in the St Boniface ward, and as a member of the Riel Community Committee I would support creation of a park in that ward (details would of course need to be determined by the ward councillor).Q7: If you are elected, what specifically will you do to improve Winnipeg's existing off-leash areas? Please consider the park infrastructure, facilities, and type and level of service the city offers and give examples.
I am proud of the work I have done at Maple Grove in terms of funding two major projects in conjunction with the dog owners group (parking lot and in-ground waste bin collection projects) , and especially at Little Mountain. Councillor Sharma and I have asked city staff to respond with a report in September (this is written in August) regarding extended use of trails at Little Mountain Park by off-leash dog owners, as well as extended hours for the one building on site at Little MOuntain (and review of what can be done to improve water quality at that building). We have also committed to talking to the province about the potential for Building Communities Initiative funding for Little Mountain, probably to improve the existing building, as that city-provincial funding is allocated by 'ward" and as Little Mountain is a park without an assigned ward councillor, it never gets funding from this source. I would also support expanding the Kilcona off-leash area, though the area councillor will have a better command of what the specific priorities are for that site.Q8: Winnipeg dog owners have been losing what little off-leash space they have, as it’s repurposed for other recreational users and for municipal profit through the sale and rental of off-leash space. If elected, what would you do to change this?
There is always competition for recreational space. Just as WINDOG would like more space for dogs, I get calls from Cricket groups wanting some of the space at St Vital Park, or tennis groups wanting new courts in other green areas. The interests of dog owners are part of that mix, and WINDOG has done a good job of ensuring that councillors are aware of the issue of space for off-leash dog parks. I do not support reducing the space for off-leash parks, and would like to see it expanded. In particular, I think we can expand off-leash space at Little mountain, and we should avoid putting future parks in areas that are only a short-term solution (e.g. road rights of way). Additionally, I do NOT support an extension of Chief Peguis Trail being put through Little Mountain Park.