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City of Edmonton plans to fence in dogs

WATCH ABOVE: The city’s new 10-year plan for off-leash areas includes a pilot project involving a fence that’s aimed at protecting pooches. Fletcher Kent explains.

EDMONTON – For years, north Edmonton dog owners have been pushing the city to build a fence around a popular off-leash park.

They may soon get their wish and other off-leash parks may also be fenced.

The Community Services Committee looked at Edmonton’s ‘Dogs in Open Spaces 10-year Strategy’ Monday and recommended the Grand Trunk off -leash park be fenced as a pilot project for the new strategy.

Dog owner Sujatha Fernando said the decision comes as a relief.

“I feel so happy because when I come in, I won’t have to keep an eye on my dogs. I will know they are in and they are safe.”

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The un-fenced park runs along 127 Avenue and 113A Street. Dog owners report three pets have died after running from owners and into traffic.

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Fernando said she has had several close calls and sees many others, almost on a daily basis.

As the city grows, dog owners argue off-leash areas become more important.

“You need spaces where you can take a little bit of risk to train your dog,” said Elise Hetu. “You can’t teach your dog to be off-leash unless you can actually go off-leash.”

Community members estimate it will cost between $50,000 and $70,000 to build a fence around the Grand Trunk off-leash park.

City officials will now look for ways to pay for the fence and will report back to council by this summer.

The findings will be used to guide the implementation of a much broader off-leash policy.

Edmonton’s ‘Dogs in Open Spaces 10-year Strategy’ sets out guidelines for categorizing the city’s 41 off-leash parks.

It suggests fencing some of the parks in high traffic areas.

Councillors supported the plan. Dave Loken said, “We’re a growing city and we’re going to continue to have a number of dog spaces so we have to take the whole city into consideration.”

The strategy does not identify any money for fences. It suggested talking to communities about cost-sharing. It also proposed things like selling ad space on park poop bag dispensers.

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Dog owners around the Grand Trunk park hope these details can be sorted out this spring and they can have a fence completed this fall.

Councillors have asked city staff to come up with ways to implement the broader strategy by fall of 2017.