In 2015 KPDC’s water features project, waste bag dispenser program, and fundraising continued to be high priorities.
As KPDC undertook these larger, more expensive park improvement projects, the management and administration of the club became increasingly complex. To meet the challenge, professional volunteer board training to ensure the management team had the knowledge and skills to direct the affairs of the corporation became a priority for KPDC’s Board of Directors.
Water Features Project
Under the direction of the Director of Marketing and Communications, Jeff Henry, KPDC continued to work with the University of Winnipeg (U of W) on the first phase of the water features project.
In March, a team of project management students were tasked with refining project costs.
KPDC’s Board continued to gather information to justify connecting Kilcona Park to the municipal water system. Over the summer, the Board began looking for partners who might benefit by having their properties connected to the City of Winnipeg municipal water system and might be interested in sharing the cost. The Board approached Kilcona Park Alliance Church and several Knowles Street residents who live along the north boundary of the park.
The Knowles Street residents canvassed neighbours who depend wells on to gauge the level of interest in connecting to the municipal water system. Although many had heard rumours that the cost would be so high as to be unaffordable, some expressed interest in attending a public meeting to hear more from elected officials and knowledgeable public servants.
In August KPDC asked ALS Environmental to test the picnic shelter well water for bacteria, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and hydrocarbons. The analysis showed the well water met all Health Canada’s Drinking Water Guidelines standards; the water was free of coli forms and E. coli. Although the water was perfectly safe to drink, the high iron content gave it an unpleasant smell and taste.
In October KPDC Directors met with the East Kildonan-Transcona (EKT) Community Committee and Kilcona Park Alliance Church Pastor Bruce Adams. The main takeaway was that the cash-strapped City simply had no appetite for a $250,000 project to run a water line under Lagimodiere into the park.
On the advice of Transcona Councillor, Russ Wyatt, the project consultants considered a less expensive option – sourcing water from the park picnic shelter well. Getting rid of the nasty smell and taste was a job for the U of W consultants. In November, the team began work that would continue over the winter and into the 2016 spring.
Jeff Henry explained,
“The consultants had to make assumptions about the yield, how many gallons of water would go through there, and what kind of storage, pipe size, and peak flow based on how many people used the park. They had to determine what kind of storage tank would be required, type of UV filtration, and how to set up the reverse osmosis. They looked at feasibility, cost, scheduling, and implementation”.
Waste Bag Dispenser Project
KPDC’s waste bag dispenser project moved into high gear in 2015. In April, the club and Platinum Sponsor, Royal LePage Prime, signed off on a cost-sharing agreement. Together they would fund 50 percent of the capital cost and they would apply for a matching City of Winnipeg Land Dedication grant for the other 50 percent.
But KPDC’s Board soon discovered there were many hurdles to overcome. There would be many visits to City Hall, and many meetings with bureaucrats and City Councillors before Kilcona Park would have waste bag dispensers.
The Parks Department continued to insist it lacked the manpower to keep the dispensers full. If true, it would be a deal breaker. Then the department advised the Board that KPDC could not use volunteers to install the dispensers. The club would have to hire a City-approved contractor. Then another stall tactic – citing confidentiality, City officials refused to provide KPDC’s Board with the names of approved contractors.
In September the club made some headway. The EKT Community Committee approved a matching Land Dedication Reserve Fund grant, the Park Superintendent agreed to allow park employees to re-fill dispensers and the Board identified a City-approved contractor. The club purchased dispensers and signs and prepared to install the waste bag stations.
But as fall turned into winter and the ground began to freeze, the dispensers remained in storage. Bureaucratic red tape over sponsorship signs brought the project to an abrupt halt. The Parks Department and Sponsor Winnipeg questioned whether KPDC had the right to have the club’s corporate sponsors fund projects at Kilcona Park.
As CBC reporter, Sean Kavanaugh explained in the late fall, Winnipeg’s public service had “pawed back” its support.
“A plan to install poop-bag dispensers at the Kilcona off-leash dog park is now in the hands of the city’s top bureaucrat.
The fact that chief administrative officer Doug McNeil is involved in that kind of decision has the head of the Kilcona Park Dog Club barking mad.
The issue is not so much the dispensers themselves, but attached signs recognizing a sponsor that helped make the plan come together.
“When the city’s top civil servant has to approve signs for poop-bag dispensers in a dog park, something needs to change there. There is a big problem with that,” Donna Henry, president of the Kilcona Park Dog Club, told CBC News.
Senior bureaucrat approval is the latest in a long series of hurdles that have put a leash on plans to install six poop-bag dispensers in the park.
Around two years ago, the dog club proposed the plan. The dispensers would help dog owners pick up the mess their canines left behind and keep the park clean. Organizers found a corporate sponsor that would help purchase the dispensers and pay for an ongoing supply of poop-bags.
Henry says that around 18 months ago, the dog club was told by a park superintendent it would be simple for the city to sign off on the type of dispensers, pick the locations and approve the gift.
But as the plan rolled along, things got complicated.
Henry said parks staff started to have a “lukewarm response” to the idea after balking at the idea city employees would have to top up the poop-bag dispensers and doubting the city would have the resources to pay staff to resupply the units, even though the sponsor had agreed to pay for the bags.
The dog club was also required to find a city-approved contractor to install the posts that the dispensers would hang on, but bureaucrats wouldn’t supply a list of who qualified for the work.
Undaunted, the dog club sleuthed out the appropriate contractor, completed the deal with the sponsor, convinced three area councillors (Jeff Browaty, Jason Schreyer and Russ Wyatt) to kick in some extra money and paid to have custom signs manufactured. The dog club and the corporate sponsor would cover half the cost, and the cash from the councillors would cover the rest.
But Henry said at this point the dog club “started to get some strange responses” from city staff. Information provided in the past was re-requested. It became evident the city wasn’t happy with the wording on the sign that would be attached to the poop-bag dispensers.
The signs would read, “Donated by Kilcona Park Dog Club and [Royal LePage Prime].”
Henry said she was told by city staff that the wording wouldn’t fly. The city wanted the signs to read, “Donated by Kilcona Park Dog Club with generous support from [Royal LePage Prime].
Henry said the watered-down version of the sign wasn’t fair to the sponsor. As well, she said another city organization, Sponsor Winnipeg, somehow became involved. The program offers naming rights to foundations, companies and individuals.
Time was ticking. The dog club had applied and received a permit from Manitoba Hydro to dig holes for the posts on which the dispensers would be installed. That permit expires today and the city won’t let the dispensers go up with the signs worded as the dog club wants.
Earlier this week, the poop-bag dispenser controversy was on agenda of the protection and community services committee of city hall.
Acting director of public works Lester Deane acknowledged the dog club’s frustration and told the committee they would approve the installation of the dispensers — without the signs.
Deane told the committee that “all signs installed in a city-owned park must be approved by the CAO,” and said there were concerns about sponsorship agreements.
Deane added that he was “mindful of the concern about all the red tape.”
“We are asking, going forward, that the CAO consider delegating that authority to the director of the department so that we can remove some of the red tape,” he said.
Henry calls the whole situation “a blind bureaucracy run amok.”
“I can’t understand why these roadblocks are in place. It shouldn’t be this hard for a not-for-profit organization; it shouldn’t be this hard for a well-meaning business to participate and give back to the community,” she said.
Wyatt, who represents the Transcona ward, sits on the committee and expressed disbelief at the situation.
“I am amazed we are sitting here talking about this,” Wyatt told the committee.
“The amount of time we are taking and the public service here to address this issue is worth more than the $1,800 for the actual poop dispensers. We could probably put up another six by now.”
Henry said a plan for a celebration to honour the sponsor and unveil the dispensers is on hold until McNeil, the CAO, signs off on the signs.
Thanks to the Protection and Community Services Committee’s intervention, six new waste bag dispenser stations were installed on Nov 24, 2015. A year and a half had passed since KPDC first presented the proposal to the City of Winnipeg Parks Department.
Installing bag dispensers
On Christmas Eve, representatives from Royal Lepage and KPDC made a special trip to Kilcona to fill the dispensers.
Joie Page, Michael Froese (Royal LePage Prime) and Jeff Henry (KPDC)
In January 2017 KPDC began a year-long pilot project to monitor the effect of the dispensers on park cleanliness.
Overall, 2015 was KPDC’s most successful fundraising year.
Less than three months after the club’s first Bud, Spud and Steak Night, KPDC’s new Fundraising Director, Deanna Buller, began planning the second. Profits from the fall “Make a Splash” social had been disappointing but the Board, believing it had learned some important lessons in event marketing and sales, was willing to try again..
The spring “Make a Splash” Bud, Spud, Steak and Pool Party at Triple B’s on Henderson Highway was a well-attended, lively event. People played pool, chatted over drinks and listened to music. Silent auction and raffle tickets sales were good, and profits were better that they had been in the fall.
Pool shark Bruce Cunningham
Happy silent auction winners Toni and Jack Zacharias
The club was very excited about the fundraising venture, “The REAL Journey to Churchill”. The first prize was a Calm Air flight to the northern port, a 3-night stay at the Seaport Hotel, a Sea North whale watching boat tour, and a North Star hiking tour from Sloop’s Cove to Fort Prince of Wales National Historic Park though Dorset and pre-Dorset archaeological sites.
“Make a Splash” raffle sponsors
Second prize was a week of fine dining at WOW hospitality restaurants and the third prize, an overnight stay at the Clarian Hotel, two passes to the Urban Oasis Mineral Spa and dinner at Earl’s.
Tickets were an easy sell because the prizes were so attractive. In June, on the first day of sales, long-time KPDC volunteer, Susan Argue sold $600 worth of tickets in six hours at Manitoba Pet Expo.
The winner of “The Real Journey to Churchill”, Theresa Kuzyk,
KPDC’s 10th annual Dog Fest in June was an unqualified success, with over 400 people attending. Twenty-six enthusiastic volunteers welcomed visitors at the park gate, flipped burgers in the Gr-r-rill Pit, and sold food, 50/50, and raffle tickets. They also held professional photo at Pawcasso’s Studio and sold dog treats at the Bon Appetit Bistro.
Sales at the bistro were brisk. The ever-popular “Pugs in a Blanket” and “Cheesy Manitoba Muttballs” were back on the menu, along with Happy Dog “Pupkin” and peanut butter dog bone- shaped biscuits all generously baked by KPDC volunteers.
Manager, Kathleen Kirkman recalls, “Dogs were salivating, licking their chops, and begging for – even stealing – treats!” She remembers one sly opportunist, “He moved stealthily through the crowd toward the bistro service counter, made a couple of shoulder checks to make sure no one was watching, jumped up on the table, absconded with Robyn Gibbon’s bag of biscuits, and woofed down the whole thing!”
Irresistible doggy treats!
Happy Dog Festers!
At the September Dog Fest, Pastor Bruce Adams of Kilcona Park Alliance Church performed Kilcona’s first Blessing of the Dogs ceremony. Kathleen Kirkman took her dog, Harry Potter to be blessed.
“This was a wonderful blessing ceremony in which dogs and their owners formed a circle, and Pastor Bruce Adams read a wonderful script about our wonderful companions. Even the dogs were transfixed and attentive during this blessing.”
Giving back to the community is important to Kilcona Park’s closest neighbour. Once again Kilcona Park Alliance Church sponsored “Breakfast in the Dog Park”. Volunteers served a free hot breakfast of pancakes, sausages, and steaming cups of coffee to early morning dog walkers, handing out treats to their pets. KPDC showed its appreciation by purchasing the park permit and promoting the event to park visitors.
Over 300 dog owners and family members turned out for KPDC’s spring clean-up. With winds gusting up to 50 kilometres an hour, it was a quintessential bad hair day. Free coffee, courtesy of Starbucks, helped take the chill off.
Spring Clean-up at Kilcona…families
Responsible Pet Ownership
In cooperation with Maple Grove Park Dog Owners Association, Little Mountain Park Dog Club and Brenda Leipsic Dog Parkers, KPDC re-printed 10,000 copies of “Pet-iquette”, a guide to off-leash dog park health, safety and behaviour. The guide is distributed to new dog owners and first-time dog park visitors through veterinary clinics, shelters and rescues. EKT Councillors Jeff Browaty, Russ Wyatt and Jason Schreyer supported the initiative with a $250 Per Capita Grant to KPDC.
The Board continued to work with Winnipeg Animal Services, encouraging Kilcona dog owners to license their pets and stay within the bounds of the off-leash area.
KPDC continued to offer low-cost micro-chipping at Dog Fest, partnering with Plessis Veterinary Hospital for the spring clinic and McPhillips Animal Hospital for the fall clinic. Plessis also carried out heart worm testing.
The Board also continued its public education campaign to discourage dog owners from exposing their pets to Kilcona retention pond water. August test results showed total coli form and E. coli levels in the ponds remained high and there were high levels of iron and manganese.
KPDC continued to advocate for high-quality off-leash green space through the Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups (WINDOG). At the coalition’s Annual General Meeting, KPDC President, Donna Henry, was elected President. Overall, it was a quiet year for WINDOG. Although City Council approved funding for the development of an off-leash dog park master plan, the planning process would not proceed until 2017. WINDOG and the Winnipeg Humane Society were invited participate as subject matter consultants in planning Winnipeg’s new downtown dog park.
On the home front, the year was not without controversy as a highly publicized dispute erupted between Kilcona Park Dog Club and Transcona’s Hi Neighbour Festival.
After the Buhler Recreation Park Board of Directors refused to allow the Hi Neighbour Festival to use its facility, festival organizers asked the Parks Department to issue issued a permit for a fireworks display in Kilcona Park.
On behalf of Kilcona dog owners, KPDC’s Board took a stand, requesting that Parks not issue a permit. The Board asked that an alternate venue be selected because of the risk to off-leash dogs. The Board also believed the event would set a dangerous precedent for more fireworks displays and pave the way for other non-compatible uses of designated dog club park space.
The EKT Community Committee fully supported KPDC’s position. The festival’s major sponsor, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Commission pulled its sponsorship.
Many KPDC members wrote City Councillors asking that a more suitable location be found. The day before the event, the Parks Department revoked the festival’s permit and the fireworks display was cancelled. Some people were understandably angry. While several KPDC members contacted the Board to say they did not agree with the club’s position, most agreed that Kilcona Park is not a suitable venue for fireworks displays.
In previous years, KPDC’s membership had risen exponentially, growing from 35 in 2011 to 450 in 2014. That trend came to an abrupt halt in 2015.
KPDC lost it Director of Membership halfway through the year. Membership was stagnant; by year-end the club had 445 members.
Corporate Governance and Administration
The management and administration of Kilcona Park Dog Club had become more complex as it undertook larger and more expensive park improvement projects. Board development training had become a priority. Training had always been important but limited funds meant it had always been done in-house.
That situation was about to change because successful fundraising had improved the club’s bottom line. At the November 24, 2014 AGM, KPDC’s membership approved the Board’s proposal to pursue training through a professional organization, Volunteer Canada. This was an important step in the Board’s evolution. The training ensured Directors were equipped to manage the affairs of the club, with a clear understanding of their individual, corporate, financial, and fiduciary roles and responsibilities.
KPDC Board training – Sasha Emric, Corrie Shore and Jeff Henry
The club’s financial management system had also become more complex. KPDC’s new Treasurer, Daria Zenchuk, guided the Board as it developed its first operating budget. Daria also redesigned the club’s financial reporting format and provided training to improve Directors’ ability to read and understand financial statements.
The budget and the financial statement were important, professional decision-making tools, enabling the Board to determine if the club’s financial goals were being achieved and if corrective action was needed.
As its activities became more complex, the Board also recognized the need to develop operating procedure manuals to help Directors manage their respective portfolios and maintain operational continuity when there are changes in Board membership. Directors were encouraged to prepare a manual for their own portfolio. The first was the Membership manual, which the Board elected as a prototype for future manuals.
Collectively, Board development training, and the development of more sophisticated financial systems and procedures, and operating manuals were indications of the growing maturity of Kilcona Park Dog Club.
November 2015 AGM
The following individuals were elected to serve on the 2015-16 Board of Directors:
President: Donna Henry
Vice President: vacant
Secretary: Kathleen Kirkman
Treasurer: Daria Zenchuk
Director of Events: Ron Fehr
Director of Marketing and Communications: Jeff Henry
Director of Membership: Robyn Gibbons
Director of Volunteers: Shannon Taylor
*** Ron Fehr resigned. Heather Bater was appointed Director of Events.
***Clayton Kasianchuk was appointed as Director of Fundraising but resigned after serving a short term. Heather assumed responsibility for that portfolio.***
***Daria Zenchuk resigned. Charlotte Elson was later appointed as Treasurer.