News & Information

News & Updates from the park

20

Apr 2013

An Open Letter to Russ Wyatt

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Open Letter to Transcona Councillor Russ Wyatt

Greetings Councillor Wyatt,

Thank you for asking one of our members to share your email with the dog park people. Kilcona Park Dog Club is happy to help get your message out (see below).

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of your comments.

For the record, as KPDC’s representative on the Stakeholder Committee, I agree that Kilcona is and should be a multi-use park. Neither KPDC’s Board nor I claim that the park belongs to one special interest group – dog owners or anyone else.

Largest Dog Park in North America

Kilcona is not the largest dog park in North America. At 49 hectares, Kilcona Dog Park is the largest dog park in Winnipeg but that’s where it ends. It’s not even the largest dog park in Canada.

You don’t have to look further than Calgary to find equivalent or larger dog parks. Bowmont Dog Park is the same size as Kilcona. At 74 ha. Edgemont Dog Park is one and a half times the size. Nose Hill’s 370 ha. off-leash area is seven and a half times the size of Winnipeg’s largest dog park.

 

Large – But Largely Unusable

Having just lost its title as North America’s biggest dog park, Kilcona can’t even claim to be particularly large. Because much of it is unusable, lots of other dog parks have just as much, or even more, off-leash space.

Most of Kilcona Dog Park sits on top of the landfill. The only part of the hill that is usable is the mowed trail along its southern crest. The rest of the hill – admittedly a huge expanse of fields – poses a formidable barrier to recreation.

 

The hill is overgrown with tall prickly thistles and other noxious weeds that cause physical discomfort, even allergic reactions, to people and dogs that come in contact with them.

So everyone sticks to the trail.

There are other problems with the hill. The land is subsiding and there are a number of low areas on top of the hill that are under water. Planning documents point out that differential settlement creates tripping hazards for users, as does the garbage that is breaking through the surface.

 

 

For weeks during spring thaw and after every rain event Kilcona’s trails are rendered impassible, the result of unfortunate operational practices, poor drainage, increased usage, prolonged wet periods, and the City’s failure to restore and upgrade park trails.

 

Planning documents also recognize that the “windswept hill” has no shade or shelter and becomes “almost uninhabitable at times.”

 

In summary – noxious weeds, poor drainage, impassable trails and the lack of shade or shelter make most of Kilcona’s 49 hectares unusable. It may be Winnipeg’s largest dog park – but it’s largest in name only.

 

Concepts

All three concepts show significant reductions in the size of Kilcona’s off-leash area. The latest concept, which City administrators and consultants presented to KPDC Directors yesterday (Plan D – not pictured below), would also reduce it.

Plan A removes the northern part of the off-leash area to create a lake for dragon boating and  kayaking as well as space for off-road biking The expanded waterway forces the closure of the of the only accessible, large flat gathering spot in the  off-leash area.

 

Plan B removes the northern part of the off-leash area to create a lake for dragon boating and kayaking and the southern portion for off-road biking and ziplining. The expanded waterway forces the closure of the also forces the closure of the existing dog play area.

 

 

Plan C removes the northern part of the off-leash area to create a lake for dragon boating and kayaking The expanded waterway creates a moat, turning the entire off-leash area into an island and forcing the closure of the existing dog play area.

What Kilcona Park Dog Club members have asked for is a slight expansion of the off-leash area and seasonal (winter) use of parts of the on-leash area.

 

KPDC’s Communication Process and Messaging

Kilcona Park Dog Club has never said the City’s “taking away the dog park.”

As the City’s designated stakeholder representative for Kilcona’s dog community, I provide members with regular updates about the planning process. At a recent General Membership Meeting our Board presented members with workshop maps illustrating the reduction for each of the proposed options.

Post Mortem

Not sure the claim “we have been consulting to death” is valid unless you believe that two short workshops with selected stakeholders – a third of whom were City of Winnipeg Councillors and administrators – could possibly be fatal!

 

 

 

Respectfully,

Donna Henry President – Kilcona Park Dog Club Inc.

 

On Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM, Wyatt, Russ <RWyatt@winnipeg.ca> wrote:

[Dear KPDC member],

Thanks for the email.

Right now we have had public consultations in order to develop a Master Plan for the next 20 years for Kilcona Park. So far any suggestions for park uses have been very preliminary and in the name of developing ‘concepts’ by a consultant hired by the City. From what I understand, though didn’t see myself, one of the concepts showed a reduction in the size/scale of the existing massive (largest in North America, I hear) off leash dog park area. Again, a ‘concept’, one of many, developed by a consultant.

From what I gather, somebody or a group of members of the Kilcona Dog Club took this a gospel (word of god) and believed it to be a final drawing or thee only drawing (I am assuming and then they way over reacted claiming the city is taking away the dog park!!!) and therefore created a controversy where none existed nor needed to exist.

It’s ironic. Often we politicians are often criticised for a lack of public consultation. In the case of this though (developing a 20 year Master Plan for Kilcona Park), we have been consulting to death. Yet due to a lack of faith in this consultation process (or for other reasons yet unknown), it has backfired and folks are getting themselves worked up about matters which are only ‘concepts’. What seems to upset me the most is the spread of misinformation by such individuals that it now causes you to draw wrong conclusions and write a long and unnecessary email (though I always love to hear from you, but also know you are a very busy person). It seems you can’t win and I guess the road to hell is truly paved with good intentions.

Nevertheless, thanks for the email, but truly, it is a much ado about nothing.

Russ

P.S. Please feel free to share this email with the Dog Park people. At the end of the day Kilcona Park is not just a Dog Park, it is one of Winnipeg’s Regional Parks, that was never completed when developed some 30 years ago and therefore belongs not to one special interest group or another, but to all Winnipegers. There must be room for all residents of Winnipeg to enjoy the outdoors in a Regional park such as Kilcona. In other words, the sharing of public spaces. I am sure this is a belief you would probably share. And any future plans for Kilcona Park will be widely shared and any Master Plan approvals will require the approval of all of City Council, especially if there are budget implications. This process is far from over.

Russ Wyatt

City Councillor

Transcona Ward

 

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