Dog owners living in neighbourhoods outside of Edmonton’s core could benefit from more off-leash spaces for dogs, according to the findings of a pair of student researchers at the University of Alberta.
“The newer neighbourhoods or the neighbourhoods in the outskirts of the city core had the highest dog density,” said Joseana Lara, who co-authored the report with fellow student Miguel Monsalve. “It would make sense to have off-leash areas where there are the most dogs, right?”
The pair, who did the research as part of a senior-level course on advanced geographic information systems, began studying the off-leash situation after learning that more households in the city had pets than children, according to the 2016 Vital Signs Report by the Edmonton Community Foundation.
“We thought that was pretty interesting so we started doing more research and contacting more city departments,” Lara said.
They highlighted 11 areas of the city that would benefit most from off-leash dog areas using the city’s open data catalogue. Each community’s dog density was calculated using the number of dog licences.
The neighbourhoods include Glastonbury, Jamieson Place and Glenwood in the west and Matt Berry and Evergreen in the northeast. The students also point to Beverly Heights and Forest Heights in the east as needing more off-leash parks, as well as Windermere, Terwillegar, Rutherford and Summerside in the south.
Ward 1 Councillor Andrew Knack, who spoke to Global News via Skype from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Halifax, agreed the west end is lacking with regard to off-leash dog parks.
“The whole idea behind designing complete communities is creating a community in which you can walk to everything you need,” Knack said. “You know, be able to walk to the grocery store, walk to your recreation centre or any amenities that you have, and that includes having a dog park.”
Most people are willing to walk up to 20 minutes to an off-leash area, according to the researchers.
“We were trying to encourage walkability, so if people can’t access a nearby off-leash area then they would have to travel long distances,” Lara said. “They would be less likely to visit an off-leash area and hence their dogs would be less active.”
Edmonton currently has 42 dog parks.