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Sep 2018

Bowman Considers Converting Wading Pools to Permanent Dog Pools

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Posted: 09/5/2018 4:00 AM

Wading pool for dogs experiment has big proponent in Mayor Brian Bowman

By: Doug Speirs


If you love dogs, you are my friend. I suppose that Hallmark card-style sentiment is about as close as I come to having a philosophy of life.



Doug Speirs (left) holds Juno along with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and his dog, Indiana.


It also explains why I like hanging out from time to time with Winnipeg’s dog-loving mayor, Brian Bowman.

Last summer, for instance, I joined the mayor and an adorable two-year-old German shepherd cross named Dorothy for a sunny walk around city hall to promote Winnipeg’s Animal Services Agency’s dog-adoption program.

It was the launch of an unofficial new program wherein the mayor invited local personalities and community leaders to join him and a canine companion for casual strolls downtown to help adoptable dogs find “forever homes.”

On Saturday, in the middle of the holiday weekend, my newest dog, Juno, and I joined the mayor and his 12-year-old miniature Labradoodle, Indiana, for a refreshing late-summer dip in the Bruce Park wading pool in St. James.

This is the second straight year the city has gone to the dogs in the sense it has transformed two of its wading pools into canine-only facilities on the final day before the pools are closed for the season.

The way it worked was licensed dogs under 30 pounds were allowed to splash around at Bruce Park from 10 a.m. to noon, while dogs over 30 pounds were invited from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It was the same at Norwood wading pool, except larger dogs had the first time slot.

I was pretty pumped up about dog day at the pool because I have never seen any of my hounds swim, other than a brief dip in an inflatable kiddie pool in our backyard.

For the record, I had also been promising for months to give Brian a copy of Finding Gobi, a heart-tugging book about an ultra-marathon runner named Dion Leonard, whose life is changed forever when he crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 250-kilometre race through the Gobi Desert in China.

If you love dogs, or even enjoy hearing about crazy people who run ridiculously long distances, you have to read this book.

But that’s not the point. The point is: it is difficult, using mere words, to describe how funny it is to watch a couple of dozen dogs having the time of their lives racing around after tennis balls in a city wading pool. But I will try: It is very, very funny!

And there is some extremely exciting news for Winnipeg dog owners who like the idea of letting their best friends beat the heat by cooling off in a wading pool normally reserved for pint-sized humans.

As his family kept a wary eye on Indiana, and my daughter, Kayleigh, took photos of a waterlogged Juno, the mayor explained that he is hoping to expand the doggie days at the pool project next summer.

“I think it’s great!” the mayor beamed as our dogs joined at least a dozen other soggy canines racing around the pool and attempting to retrieve complimentary tennis balls. “What I love about this is the dogs are happy and, even more importantly, the owners are happy. I’m thrilled. We started this last year and it’s been a huge hit. The tails have been up the whole time.”

Which means dogs may enjoy more days at city wading pools next year.

“What I’m going to be doing this week is touching base with our pools and animal services folks to see what makes sense in terms of looking at maybe opening some of these wading pools once a week, or possibly once a month, during the summer months or even the idea of converting one or a number of these wading pools to permanent dog pools,” the mayor told me.

“We’d have to look at the current usage of children in these wading pools and where it would make sense based on the feedback. We’d have to do some due diligence about what’s possible and do some consultations.

“I think what’s more likely is just once a week, say Sundays would be the day, that a number of them would be (dog pools) just for that day. At this pool… the water is drained at the end of the day anyways.”

The idea of opening pools to canine residents stemmed from a conversation Bowman had with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi a couple of years ago.

“We were talking about amenities for dogs and how popular what they were doing in Calgary was. So we tried it out last year just to see how it would go, and it was an overwhelming success. I’m really pleased to see how many people are with us here today.”

He noted Winnipeggers have been howling with excitement over canine amenities such as the city’s new downtown dog park that opened in Bonnycastle Park last year.

“What we’ve seen with the downtown dog park is a sense of community that happens when dogs bring their owners to each other,” he said. “What we’re seeing here (at the wading pool) today is folks meeting each other, talking about their dogs. It’s all about community; it’s about bringing people together. That’s what we’ve seen with the downtown dog park.”

Of course, when you bring your dog for a swim you need to pay strict attention to the safety rules. Because you don’t want to step in a poodle.



Feb 2016

City of Winnipeg Animal Services Agency – A Dog’s Best Friend!

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City of Winnipeg Animal Services Agency – A Dog’s Best Friend!
Over the past month WINDOG has received a few complaints from dog owners who failed to renew their licenses. As a result of Winnipeg Animal Services’ “Spot” checks, these dog owners received a hand-delivered $231.25 fine.
Some observers mistakenly view the fine as cash grab, however none of the revenue from fines goes to Animal Services. The fine is paid to directly to the Provincial Department of Finance to cover court costs and the city’s legal fees.
For the record, WINDOG and its member organizations fully support Animal Services’ Zero Tolerance licensing policy. Funds raised through the sale of licenses have allowed Animal Services to transform Winnipeg’s former dog pound into a virtually no-kill facility where lost and abandoned dogs are fed and sheltered.


Nine-week-old Mandy cuddles with an Animal Services Officer after the puppy was thrown from a moving vehicle.
Photo credit: City of Winnipeg

Ninety-five per cent of the dogs that are picked up and taken to the shelter are either reunited with their owners, adopted, or sent to a local animal rescue. Only animals considered too aggressive or terminally ill are euthanized. Since the Zero Tolerance policy was introduced the number of dogs euthanized has dropped dramatically. In 2008, 359 dogs were euthanized. By 2014, that number dropped to 52.

Animal Services estimates there are over 112,000 pet dogs in Winnipeg. About 50,000 are currently licensed.

Animal Services COO, Leland Gordon, makes it clear that license fees generate the revenue the City of Winnipeg needs to deliver services to pets and pet owners. “When you pay your $32 for a dog license you’re protecting your dog – but you’re also paying for a system that provides the services the community needs.” Animal Services depends on license fees to run its operations.

• Animal Services houses and cares for lost and abandoned pets.

Most pets never get loose and go missing. No one plans to have a break-in, house fire, or car accident; no one expects a gate left open or a freshly dug escape tunnel under the backyard fence. Licensing your pet is about providing it with protection in the rare event it does get lost. Licenses are $32 for spayed/neutered dogs and $68 for intact ones; $15 for spayed/neutered cats and $50 for intact ones.

The City of Winnipeg has Animal Services in place to be the facility where Winnipeggers can take stray dogs and the Winnipeg Humane Society through a service agreement as the facility where Winnipeggers can take stray cats.


Adorable adoptables Noah and Eva were found near the corner of Ellice and Wall
Photo credit: City of Winnipeg

• Animal Services re-unite lost pets with their owners.

The agency receives more than 12,000 calls for service a year. In 2014, thanks to mandatory dog licensing and the agency’s “Free Ride Home” program, Animal Services returned 671 dogs to their owners. 646 more were reunited with their owners by 311 operators without setting foot in the Animal Services facility.


• Animal Services’ Adoption Program allows dogs to be adopted into new families instead of being euthanized.


Animal Services Adoption/Volunteer Coordinator Lorna Verschoore with adoptive family
Photo credit: City of Winnipeg

• Animal Services funds emergency veterinary care for injured lost and abandoned animals and provides transportation to a veterinary facility.


• Animal Services funds spay and neuter programming, including the FIXIT grant program designed to encourage non-profit community organizations, veterinary clinics, animal hospitals and educational institutions to undertake quality programs to spay and neuter high volumes of cats at a low cost to the community.


• Animal Services provides a 24/7 emergency response service to police and fire fighters, attending house fires, car accidents, and police assists to remove and care for animals.


A matted cat pulled from the ashes by firefighters is transferred to Animal Services.
Photo credit: Winnipeg Free Press

Animal Services also uses revenue from the sale of pet licenses to:

• educate the public about responsible pet ownership
• pick up stray animals, including dogs that have attacked people.
• resolve neighbourhood disputes regarding animals

Visit www.winnipeg.ca/animalservices to license, adopt, or volunteer

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Feb 2016

Erosion of Winnipeg’s Off-Leash Recreational Green Space

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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.

Erosion 1
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.

Erosion 2a    Erosion 2b

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.

Erosion 3

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.

Erosion 4

Sturgeon and Silver intersection before roundabout

Erosion 5

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.

Erosion 6
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.

Erosion 7
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.

Erosion 8

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.

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Oct 2014

Dog Owners Win with a Dog-Friendly City Council

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And the winners are…

Yesterday’s election results indicate Winnipeg’s dog community can look forward to a much brighter future and high quality off-leash areas throughout the city.

In July Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee already voted to create a new comprehensive  off-leash area management plan after rejecting the administration’s much more limited and seriously flawed dog park guidelines, which were developed without public consultation. WINDOG has asked that this time  the City consult with its citizens in an open, transparent process.

Winnipeg’s Mayor-elect and seven City Councillors  have indicated their support to WINDOG’s 3-tiered model for dog parks.WINDOG’S model proposes many small neighbourhood off-leash areas within walking distance of residents’ homes, a mid-sized dog park in every ward and a large Kilcona-size regional dog park  in every quadrant of the city.

Winnipeg now has two “super dog-friendly” community leaders: Mayor – Brian Bowman and North Kildonan Councillor – Jeff Browaty. And there are six “dog-friendlies”:
Charleswood – Marty Morantz
Old Kildonan – Devi Sharma
River Heights /Fort Garry – John Orlikow
St. Boniface – Matt Allard
St. Vital – Brian Mayes
Transcona – Russ Wyatt
In the “dog-unfriendly” camp, Fort Rouge –East Fort Garry’s Jenny Gerbasi and Janice Lukes (St. Norbert). Both are strong supporters of Winnipeg’s bike lobby.  In 2012 Transcona’s only off-leash park was closed and re-purposed as a link in Winnipeg’s Active Transportation Network.  Gerbasi also supports residential development and a bus rapid transit route through the Parker Wetlands that will close Brenda Leipsic Dog Park.

Six candidates didn’t bother to respond to WINDOG’s survey, indicating that off-leash dog parks are a very low priority for them – Mike Paktaghan (Point Douglas), Shawn Dobson (St. Charles); Jason Schreyer (Elmwood – East Kildonan); Ross Eadie (Mynarski); Scott Gillingham ( St. James); and Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre).

Don’t despair if you live in a dog-unfriendly ward. Speak up! Let your Mayor, your City Councillor – and WINDOG – know what you want for off-leash dog parks in your part of the city.

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Oct 2014

Dog Friendly Candidates List

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Final rankings for Oct 22, 2014 election

Ranked by electoral race and then by dog friendliness score.


Brian Bowman                 Super Dog Friendly
David Sanders                  Dog Friendly

Charleswood – Tuxedo

Luc Lewandoski              Dog Friendly
Evan Duncan                    Dog Friendly
Kevin Nichols                   Dog Friendly
Marty Morantz                 Dog Friendly

Daniel McIntyre

Keith Bellamy                   Dog Friendly

Elmwood – East Kildonan

Paul Quaye                         Dog Friendly

North Kildonan

Jeff Browaty                      Super Dog Friendly
Andrew Podolecki           Dog Friendly

Old Kildonan

Devi Sharma                      Dog Friendly

River Heights – Fort Garry

John Orlikow                     Dog Friendly

St. Boniface

Matt Allard                         Dog Friendly
Ryan Davies                       Dog Friendly

St. Charles

Grant Nordman                Super Dog Friendly

St. James – Brooklands

Stefan Jonasson               Dog Friendly

St. Vital

Brian Mayes                       Dog Friendly
Steven Hennessey            Dog Friendly


George Baars-Wilhelm   Dog Friendly
Russ Wyatt                          Dog Friendly
Ray Ulasy                             Dog Friendly

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