Winnipeg could offer the cooling feature to dogs as well, if a dog park renovation proposal earns approval.
The Kilcona Dog Park Club hopes to fundraise and secure provincial and city grants for a doggy splash pad, doggy wash/shower station, drinking water fountain and more at their namesake park.
The splash pad for four-legged friends would be the first of its kind in Canada, said Donna Henry, president of the club.
"Winnipeg is quite a bit behind in developing off-leash areas," said Henry, noting many such splash pads are operating in the United States.
Much of the project's costs have yet to be determined, though a splash pad kit is expected to cost $50,000 before installation and a water fountain addition would cost at least cost $25,000 to connect the supply and add fixtures. User fees, which in other cities average about $30 per owner per year, are pitched to offset the operating costs of the splash pad.
The club stresses improving the city's largest dog park is worthwhile, since Winnipeg's number of household canines is about 110,000, just shy of its 124,000 children under age 14. Meanwhile, the city offers kids 4,000 hectares of parkland but just 100 hectares are devoted to off-leash dog areas, said Henry.
"Dog owners are absolutely the biggest users of Kilcona Park," said Henry. "We're there all the time."
The proposal is slated for discussion at the city's East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee meeting on Tuesday.
It also pitches adding potable drinking water to prevent dogs from drinking pond water that the club says contains E. coli.
The club estimates Canadians spend $6.5 billion on their dogs each year, while American owners spend 10 times that amount, making a revamped park a great potential tourist attraction.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), a member of the community committee, said he believes parks are a core city service worthy of consideration, even if the city must pay for part of the project.
"There are thousands and thousands of dogs in our city and we do invest in recreation," said Browaty. "Putting a certain amount of investment in dog parks is a good investment."
Browaty said he's not sure a doggy spray pad would be among the elements worthy of city cash but he's open to discussing it, especially if the request is limited to operating costs.
The proposal is currently in the early stages, with several planning documents and city approvals still required.
A short time ago Kil-cona, Maple Grove and ourselves formed the WINDOG group.
Its intention is to create a forum for all Winnipeg Dog parks to voice the common concerns, goals and different events that we would like to be involved in. I will be adding in any new information as we go.
The City’s questionaire only works for people who take their dogs to Kilcona (it asks the respondents how they use the park, how often, etc.) so if you post it on your website can you preface the notice so that those who only use Little Mountain don’t respond.
Help Secure Kilcona Dog Park’s Future
The City of Winnipeg is in the process of developing a master plan for Kilcona Park. The plan will set the direction for the park for the next 10 to 20 years. A concern for dog owners who use the off-leash area is that current uses are not “etched in stone”.
Kilcona Park's infrastructure requires significant investment. Financial resources and space within the park are limited. Kilcona’s dog owners, cyclists, runners, skiers, soccer and baseball teams, and other sports groups are all competing for these limited resources.
It’s important for members of Kilcona’s largest year-round user group to take the time to the express their views about the future of off-leash area if they want the City to consider dog owners’ wants and needs as priorities and incorporate them in the master plan.
If you walk your dog(s) at Kilcona,please do your part to protect the off-leash area for future generations. Fill out the Visitor Survey questionnaire on the City’s website and encourage others who use the dog park to do the same.
You can download the questionnaire, type in your comments and email it; or you can print it, write in your comments and fax it to 204-986-7524. If you prefer to mail it, the Canada Post mailing address is on the questionnaire.
The City will hold a public consultation meeting in April. Check the City’s website or Kilcona Park Dog Club’s website – kilconaparkdogclub.ca - for place, date and time.
Protecting Winnipeg’s Off-leash Dog Parks
Angelika Zapszalka’s article in yesterday’s award-winning French language newspaper, La Liberté, draws attention to the rapid reduction in Winnipeg’s off-leash space. Here is a link to Angelika’s original article.
Thanks to La Liberté for permission to print the English translation that appears below.
Transcona’s only off-leash area closed in June 2012. Winnipeg’s Public Works Department paved and repurposed it. It is now part of the six kilometer Transcona Trail, a link in Winnipeg’s Active Transportation Network.
Transcona has no off-leash dog parks. This sign redirects dog owners to Kilcona Park and a small unfenced, off-leash area surrounding the Mazenod retention pond in St. Boniface Industrial Park.
Translated from Angelika Zapszalka’s article in the March 27, 2013 edition of La Liberté.
Dog parks in Winnipeg are losing ground. To advocate for their existence, an association of representatives of dog park groups and citizens concerned with the problem is being formed.
Many Winnipeg dog owners are unhappy. So are representatives of several dog park associations in the city. Not only are there few off-leash dog parks in Winnipeg, but some of them are endangered.
To address the situation, various groups and individuals concerned with the issue have decided to come together in an association they called Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups (WINDOG).
“Our desire is to partner together to speak with one voice, says the President of the new association and Co-chair of the Maple Grove Park Dog Owner’s Association (MGPDOA), Frank Machovec. We want to defend the common interests of all members through a unique and enlightened voice.”
Towards Greater Transparency
Currently, about a dozen people attend WINDOG meetings. Among them are representatives of dog park [associations]- Kilcona Dog Park Club, Little Mountain Park Dog Club, Maple Grove Park Dog Owners Association, [King’s Park Dog Association] and individual members like Franco-Manitoban Mathieu Allard, an owner of three dogs who advocates for a dog park in St. Boniface.
“We are not yet an incorporated association, says Mathieu Allard. We are currently waiting for a coalition and the annexation of other groups and individuals to continue the process. We are also very open about the organization of the future super-association.“
In general, the main problems WINDOG points to are the City’s failure to consult with the public regarding guidelines that are being developed for Winnipeg’s off-leash areas, the lack of transparency regarding the closure of Winnipeg dog parks, and the failure to create new neighbourhood dog parks when existing ones are closed. The coalition also has questions about the health and safety of people and [dogs] using some of the existing parks.
Most recently, the fate of Kilcona Dog Park has been particularly concerning. “The City has proposed reducing the area of the dog park by 50%,” informs Mathieu Allard.
The Coalition strongly opposes this scenario, which it considers is happening too frequently. “In Winnipeg, we went from 12 dog parks to 10 in the past five years,” says the Franco-Manitoban. This figure seems very small when we know that a city like Calgary has 150 parks dogs.”
WINDOG backs up its comparison with the City of Calgary, pointing out it is comparable to Winnipeg in the size of its canine population, estimated at 100,000 animals. “In Winnipeg, the total area of dog parks is approximately 100 hectares, while it is more than 1250 in Calgary, said Mathieu Allard. It is time for our city to take further measures in this regard.”
“WINDOG aims to do so while, at the same time, allowing the emergence of appropriate regulations for the existing parks dogs,” he says.
Users of the Kilcona off-leash dog park are concerned by city plans to decrease the size of the park. (ALISA PIHULAK)
There are not many dog parks in Winnipeg, so Riverbend residences are thankful to be able to travel only 10 minutes by car to the Kilcona off-leash dog park.
Last last month, the thousands of weekly visitors to the park were shocked to hear that the city plans to shrink the off-leash section of the park to half its size.
This beautiful space, with its natural playground of creek, hills, and open area is the site for furry friends to play Frisbee or catch, swim in the creek, and socialize with hundreds of beautiful breeds of dogs in a safe and controlled environment. It is a space that provides the necessary exercise needed for a dog’s physical and mental health. The joy of watching your pet enjoy the uninhibited freedom available only at an off-leash dog park is priceless.
Cutting the size of Kilcona Dog Park will result in many problems for the visitors and their beloved dogs.
Donna Henry, president of the Kilcona Park Dog Club says that there are only so many people and dogs that can fit into a limited space without causing damage to the environment and ruining the experience for its visitors.
"Cutting up the dog park will cause overcrowding to a very well-used existing space. The current visiting experience isn’t always what it should be because of overcrowding since the closure of the Transcona dog park," she said.
For Riverbend residents, Little Mountain Dog Park is the next closest off-leash dog park, about a 15-minute drive from the area. However, this park is also fighting to stay open since the City of Winnipeg proposed it as a site for routing of the new rapid transit system.
There is hope of saving Kilcona Dog Park from this proposition. Henry is encouraging people to become members of the Kilcona Dog Park Club. For only $5 you can register and enjoy many benefits of membership, including 10% off most purchases at the Reenders Square and Rivergrove PetValu locations, 10% off exam fees at McPhillips Animal Hospital and many more savings at other businesses in the area. Membership fees will go towards improving the Kilcona Dog Park, which just recently purchased cigarette butt dispensers at the park.
Henry believes the community can win the battle to save the park by standing together. She encourages people to write to Mayor Sam Katz and also to their area councillor. To become a member of the Kilcona Park Dog Club visit http://kilconaparkdogclub.ca.
Alisa Pihulak is a community correspondent for Riverbend.
FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2013 04:36 PM CDT
Donna Henry is seen in the Kilcona dog park in Winnipeg, Man. with her dogs "Terra" and "Hudson" Wednesday April 17, 2013. Henry is concerned that the city is planning to reduce the size of the park. (BRIAN DONOGH/WINNIPEG SUN/QMI AGENCY)
The City of Winnipeg is barking up the wrong tree if it follows through on plans to reduce the size of its biggest off-leash dog park, Donna Henry says.
Henry and Kilcona Park Dog Club members will be meeting with the city’s parks department Friday to discuss concerns regarding the city’s “strategic renewal and action plan” for the park. The discussions will build on community input gathered at the Kilcona Park/Harbourview Recreation Complex visioning workshops that were held in February and March.
“We think it’s completely ridiculous to reduce it because the city has never done any studies to see how many people are using the dog park,” said Henry, the club’s president.
Henry compared Winnipeg and Calgary to illustrate how the two cities view the value of off-leash dog parks. Calgary has the same dog population as Winnipeg, according to the City of Winnipeg auditor’s report in 2010, with both at about 100,000 canines.
“Calgary has 150 off-leash parks ... which equals 1,250 hectares,” she said. “Winnipeg has 12 dog parks, which equals 150 hectares.”
Club members are miffed about a response they received from a couple of city councillors that stated Kilcona is the largest dog park in North America. In fact, Calgary’s Nose Hill off-leash park is about seven times the size of Kilcona’s, she said.
“The implication is there that we’re just a bunch of whiners — that we already have the best dog park in the world,” Henry said. “You don’t have to look very far to see they either have the wrong idea, or this is just spin to discredit dog owners.”
A city spokeswoman said in an email a “broad based community consultation on the future of the park is underway ... with representation from park user groups, immediate neighbours and businesses, residents’ associations, nearby churches and community centres, interest groups, recreation organizations, regional health authorities and elected officials.
“These stakeholders have been asked to contribute to interviews and workshops on behalf of their constituents.”
It didn’t elaborate on why the changes might happen, but Henry speculated there is a proposal to dredge the ponds for dragon boat and kayak races, possibly with an eye on the city’s bid for the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
There are three design proposals, which could reduce the size of the dog park by up to 50%, Henry said.
The city established dog parks in 1998. The number of dog owners using Kilcona has steadily increased over the years, Henry said, particularly with the closing of a dog park in Transcona last June and the opening of the Chief Peguis Trail extension in 2011.
“The park is already overused at certain times of the day and year,” she said. “You’ve got people stuffed in there so they’re walking 10 feet behind the next set of people.
“We’re saying you not only shouldn’t be reducing the size of the dog park, you should be increasing it.”
Kilcona isn’t the only off-leash park where dog owners are upset. Last August, the off-leash area at Little Mountain Park was reduced into “a sliver” of the northwest corner in favour of rental space, Henry said.
“The area is not fenced on either of the two sides and it runs along Jefferson (Avenue) and Klimpke Road, which is an incredibly busy road,” she said. “It’s not just about losing valuable off-leash space at Kilcona, and that’s why people are so mad about it.”