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28

Mar 2013

Protecting Winnipeg’s Off-leash Dog Parks

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Protecting Winnipeg’s Off-leash Dog Parks

Angelika Zapszalka’s article in last week’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.

http://laliberte.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=59U6X0X14TZ5&linkid=d43f2d9b-68ac-42ee-a7e5-91eb44ce9fc8&pdaffid=%2BkGqAPpXYpRXYdI%2Fak0Obw%3D%3D

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.

Drastic Reductions

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.

 

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