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.
In my ward I have worked hard to engage citizens in planning our neighbourhoods and have been and remain open to the concerns of dog owners. I have fought hard to preserve and maintain greenspace. Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry as an older established neighbourhood has little greenspace, making it more difficult to set aside what little land there is for specific and limited uses but I believe that working to value and maintain our existing greenspaces is in the interest of all citizens, dog owners and non dog owners alike.Q2: Does your ward have an off-leash dog park? If not, do you know why not?
The ward does not have an off-leash park. I believe this is because as an older unplanned neighbourhood, the area was established at a much different time in history. As we move forward, planning for the future and implementing neighbourhood plans and better policies based on citizen and community involvement, we need to address this deficit.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.
It would be difficult to find a large area of land in our densely populated ward to dedicate to a dog park, but I believe there are smaller, lesser used pockets of land that might work as sites for future dog parks. Hopefully if elected, we could engage in a process to determine possible sites, pros and cons for each site (while considering other competing greenspace needs). I would like to see the city policy developed to be clear and pro-active in establishing dog parks with guidelines that facilitate the process with fairness and clarity. If the community can through consultation agree on a site or site, I would work hard with win-dog and other stakeholders to get the funding to provide funding and basic amenities such as water stations, paths, and maintenance.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?
Winnipeg lags behind other cities in off-leash areas just as we lag behind cities like Calgary and Edmonton in terms of supporting long term urban planning and in other progressive areas such as reducing sprawl and supporting transit. We are also an older city so much of Winnipeg was built at a time when green space in general was under valued and when dog parks were not even a concept. Ironically the sprawling developments in suburban Winnipeg have mostly not been well planned or considered the creation of space for dog parks either.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?
Ideally I support Win dog's notion of separate properly fenced green-space for dog parks but I worry that citizens in wards such as mine where there is not enough green-space to go around would object to designating green-spaces that were formerly multi use as dog park only. There are other models (for example, Victoria Beach I believe, allows dogs on the beach only between certain hours such as the early morning and later in the evening. I think other cities have models of shared use and a city such as ours might allow dogs in certain spaces in winter but not in the summer or only in certain hours in the summer when the land is used for sports and other human recreation. That might be something to consider in certain circumstances.Q6: What specifically should the City do to create off-leash recreational space in older, well-established neighbourhoods?
It is especially tough in older neighbourhoods to designate scarce existing greenspace to single use activity no matter how needed. I think the way to start is with community consultation. We need to identify the potential sites and have a full discussion with all concerned.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 think existing dog parks deserve at least the same level of amenities as other parks. The parks need to be accessible and the grounds need to be cared for, the trails groomed etc. Special care should obviously be taken to avoid hazards to pets such as poisons and trash. I think if dog owners had the security of knowing that their dog park will not be converted to some other use, they would gladly collaborate with the city, business and communities to fundraise to improve their parks amenities. As it is now, where the dog parks are ad hoc and lack long term commitment, it is difficult to get stake holders (city , community groups, dog groups, business) to commit to improving the amenities and services. So the goal would be to get some kind of more permanent status for existing dog parks.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?
I don't think this is an easy issue, especially in older, denser wards such as Fort Rouge Fort Garry. Think how difficult it was to get a soccer field for the students at Gordon Bell High School. In that instance, students and advocates believed that the field was needed and that it could be done. They led the way and council and others came on board. I think something similar needs to happen here. I want to hear from the community on this issue and I am open to your ideas and suggestions. Let's put our heads together (and our hearts) and make progress on this important issue.