Starting this spring, there will be as many as 30 temporary pop-up dog parks in neighbourhoods around Edmonton.
It’s part of a six-month pilot project meant to help build 15-minute communities, which includes having dog parks within a 15-minute walk of everyone’s home.
The city said neighbourhoods were selected based on need: their proximity to existing off-leash areas, the number of licensed dogs in the community, requests for the establishment of off-leash areas by citizens, and the presence of off-leash dogs.
The availability of park space to accommodate the pop-up parks and accessibility was also taken into consideration.
Currently, the city says there are over 50 off-leash sites within Edmonton.
The city’s initial guidelines for dog parks were created in the 1990s, and over the years most off-leash areas have been created as a result of requests from community groups or citizens.
The pilot project is part of the Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy that creates new guidelines to shape and update the city’s planning, design and management practices regarding off-leash areas.
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The city has identified more than 60 existing or future permanent dog parks, and there are 21 locations currently ear-marked for pop-ups, most located in newer areas to the south and west that don’t have such parks in their communities.
By adding them, the city says 85 per cent of neighbourhoods will be within a 15-minute walk of a dog park.
“The fact we’re going to be unlocking more dog parks and more off-leash areas closer to their community and closer to their home, it’s a huge win,” said Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz.
Taxpayers will shell out up to $300,000 to install the parks, with most of the money going to fencing and signage.
The parks are only temporary for the spring, summer and fall of 2023.
Making them permanent with things like lighting, pathways, and public washrooms would require capital funding — which wasn’t allocated in the last budget.
“My concern is that we budgeted and did not fund any of the Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy in the budget debate that we just had in December,” Ward Anirniq Coun. Erin Rutherford said.
She worries once the parks appear, people will expect them to stay — creating expectations the city can’t afford to meet.
“So if we’re doing a pilot project, and we know there’s no funding for permanent, what are we creating?”
Janz said there are more dogs than kids in Edmonton. He thinks many city parks are underdeveloped and adding off-leash areas will increase utilization.
“If there’s great demand, let’s deliver on it,” he said, adding some people take their dogs to the park multiple times a day.
“If there’s high expectations, let’s deliver on it.”
Dog-related confrontations happen at parks and responding to them could become an issue for the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control officers.
Since 2016, six new dog parks have opened in the city but zero funding has been put towards extra enforcement.
“I really do worry we’re stretching our resources too thin,” Rutherford said.
“I’d rather us do what we currently have really well, rather than expanding and do everything mediocre.”
The Terwillegar Dog Park in the southwest is a popular spot, as it’s the only such park of its kind in that corner of the city — plus it is a massive space with a large parking lot.
The pilot project proposes adding pop-up parks in the nearby neighbourhoods of South Terwillegar, Haddow or Terwillegar Towne and across Anthony Henday Drive in Windermere, Ambleside or Glenridding Heights.
Several other rapidly expanding southside suburbs would also get temporary parks, such as Allard, Rutherford, Summerside or Walker. (Full list below)
All pop-up dog parks have dog waste bags and dispensers, signage that includes the responsibilities of dog owners, and clearly identified boundaries.
Like all city parks, the pop-up dog parks will be open 5 a.m. to 11p.m.
Pop-up dog parks are proposed for:
- Trumpeter or Starling or Hawks Ridge
- Westview Village
- Secord or Rosenthal
- Suder Greens or Webber Greens
- Granville or Breckenridge Greens
- The Hamptons or Glastonbury
- Jamieson Place
- La Perle
- Brittania Youngstown or Glenwood
- South Terwillegar
- Haddow/Terwillegar Towne
- Ambleside or Glenridding Heights
- Summerside or Walker
- Crawford Plains
- Matt Berry or Hollick Kenyon
- Bulyea Heights
- Maple Ridge
— with files from Dan Grummett, Global News