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Dog-park decision delay 'a good first step': resident

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Many nearby residents oppose turning Crestview's Voyageur Park into an off-leash dog park.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Many nearby residents oppose turning Crestview's Voyageur Park into an off-leash dog park. Photo Store

A neighbourhood park targeted for conversion into an off-leash dog park will remain for families -- for the time being.

The public works committee postponed a decision Tuesday on the future of Voyageur Park.

"That's a good first step," Crestview resident Craig Boan said of the committee's decision. "But obviously, this thing is not over yet and we'll have to talk amongst ourselves on what to do next."

Ward Coun. Grant Nordman said the 1.8-hectare park, located off Cavalier Drive on the western edge of Winnipeg, was under-utilized by the community and would make an ideal neighbourhood off-leash park.

Nordman (St. Charles) circulated plans for the dog park, which included a series of fences to isolate the proposed off-leash area from a nearby elementary school and to provide space between neighbouring homes.

Nordman also wanted to created an 18-stall gravel parking lot on the park site.

The committee said it would postpone a decision on the park's future until the public works department finalized guidelines for the creation and maintenance of off-leash parks, expected by the fall.

Nordman said he wasn't surprised by the committee's move, adding he supported postponing a final decision.

"I did say I was comfortable to hold off a decision until any new guidelines on off-leash dog parks come back from the administration," he said.

The plan was supported by the coalition of dog owners groups, but the proposal angered Boan and most of his neighbours.

Several residents opposed to the dog park spoke at the hearing. They said contrary to the image presented by Nordman and the dog group, the park is an active site used year-round by families, the school and a daycare.

The residents said they felt bullied by Nordman, who admitted he said the park likely would be developed for housing if the residents did not agree to the dog-park proposal -- even though there is no plan or proposal from a developer for housing.

The residents said they all own dogs, support the creation of dog parks, but were emphatic Voyageur Park was the wrong place for an off-leash site.

"Keep our park safe, quiet, family-oriented place for all to enjoy, two- and four-legged," Boan said.

Public works director Brad Sacher said that while he supports the creation of off-leash parks, city council has not provided his department with the necessary funds to properly set them up.

The public works department had opposed Nordman's proposal, saying it would rob the community of a city-managed neighbourhood park, it was opposed by the school and the plan didn't address safety concerns.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

What should be a higher priority for the city: parks for kids or parks for dogs? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2014 B1

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