Carson (left), 13, and Noah, 7, walk flat-coated retriever Sam in Voyageur Park on Sat., May 10, 2014. Some area residents have objected to a proposal to turn the park into an off-leash dog park. (Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency)
The largest dog owner group in the city — the Winnipeg Human Society — is questioning why it was left out of the consultation process for the city’s guidelines for off-leash dog parks.
Bill McDonald, CEO of the WHS, said he found it “strange” that no one asked for their input when putting together the 70-page report.
“Guidelines are excellent, but they also need to have a plan and the citizens who are going to use these facilities should be consulted, including the biggest dog guy in the city, which is the Winnipeg Human Society,” McDonald said. “I find it a little strange, because we are the biggest neighbour to the Brenda Leipsic off-leash park ... and the only discussions on that park have been with the transit consultants.”
Delegates from both the Winnipeg Network of Dog Owners Groups and the Winnipeg Humane Society spoke in opposition to the guidelines at Monday’s protection and community services meeting, asking for a delay in passing it so more community consultation could occur.
The guidelines were commissioned over two years ago and presented to committee on Monday. The report, which cost $20,000, is to give the public service guidelines for the creation of future dog parks and maintenance of current parks.
McDonald said the guidelines didn’t go far enough to make decisions as to where exactly the parks should be, raising the question of whether they should be in neighbourhoods or in larger regional areas.
Committee member Coun. Scott Fielding said he’d like to see four or five new dog parks in the city and the guidelines passed on Monday will allow for that.
“I don’t think there is enough space for the big mega-parks they are talking about ... but what I would support is having four or five more small dog parks,” he said.
By creating a framework, as opposed to a policy for the parks it allows flexibility for new developments, he said.
“It’s make sense that you can follow the guidelines. Guidelines aren’t set in stone and you can make that decision on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “You want some flexibility.”