City of Edmonton considering new approach to creating neighbourhood dog parks

A file photo of Edmonton's Grand Trunk off-leash dog park. (Aug. 28, 2016). Sarah Kraus, Global News

In a sort of “teaching an old dog new tricks” way, the City of Edmonton is willing to take a whole new look at how to create off-leash dog parks.

The city has opened the door to having new dog parks led by neighbourhood communities instead of the city itself.

“We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet,” said Councillor Scott McKeen, who asked for a report to come to next week’s community and public services committee.

The report recommends exploring possible community-initiated efforts. McKeen said that as it stands now, with the current capital funding plan, only two major off-leash areas would be built over four years.

He sees it as no different than what happens when a neighbourhood group works to get a playground built.

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Watch below: Some Global News videos about dog parks in Edmonton.

“If you want a playground in your neighbourhood, usually there’s an organizing committee put together and they write grant applications,” McKeen said. “They fundraise, they get the community behind it [and] there’s a design done. So I guess the idea is, why not have a sort of similar process for off-leash areas if your community really wants one?”

While the report opens the door for communities to take the lead, it also lists a whole bunch of rules, including some must-have amenities like waste bins, dog bag dispensers, signage, some landscaping and clear physical boundaries.

“We’re talking about some pretty good fencing, and maybe some benches,” McKeen said, thinking of tired dog owners letting Fido out for a run and the end of a long day. “It’s certainly not something that you’d require heavy engineering or design for it. It should be fairly simple.”

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McKeen said he’ll go to the meeting envisioning two different kinds of dog parks.

“Maybe the city’s role in off-leash should be in having bigger sort of district off-leash areas [like] Buena Vista Park [or] Terwillegar,” he said. “These would be larger areas where the city has responsibility for some maintenance and upkeep and the creation of that.
“Then the neighbourhood ones would be smaller [and] fit in the context of the neighbourhood — maybe it’s on the school grounds somewhere — and then the community would have more responsibility for sighting, and for fundraising and for construction.”

Under the current city funding program, community groups are eligible through the Neighbourhood Park Development Program for $15,000 in matching funds every five years per neighbourhood, $75,000 for matching funds for intermediate projects every 10 years and $250,000 in matching funds for extensive projects every 15 years per neighbourhood.

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