Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Plan for off-leash dog parks revived

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Donna Henry, spokeswoman for WINDOG (Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups), takes her dogs, Hudson and Terra, for an off-leash outing in Kilcona Park.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Donna Henry, spokeswoman for WINDOG (Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups), takes her dogs, Hudson and Terra, for an off-leash outing in Kilcona Park. Photo Store

A coalition of dog owners succeeded in persuading city hall to reconsider controversial guidelines for off-leash dog parks.

The proposed guidelines were to go to council for approval next week, but the dog owners found a receptive audience Wednesday among members of the council's senior committee.

Several members of executive policy committee were critical of a consultant's report that produced the guidelines.

"I don't think (the report) went anywhere near far enough to deal with the issues," Coun. Grant Nordman said.

The dog owners' coalition said the consultant did a poor job, adding the report lacked appropriate consultation and was full of errors and unfounded assumptions.

"The analysis appears to be sloppy," said Donna Henry, spokeswoman for the Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups (WINDOG).

Henry's group wants Winnipeg to establish four big off-leash dog parks across the city, with one community off-leash park in every ward and several smaller off-leash parks in neighbourhoods around the city.

The group wanted the city to shelve the consultant's report, conduct more consultations with dog groups and prepare another proposal for council's consideration.

Henry said the proposed guidelines didn't go far enough, a position executive policy committee members shared.

The consultant's report recommended providing amenities to the off-leash parks as money is available, and the guidelines make the creation of new off-leash parks dependent on acceptance by other park users. The coalition wants city council to adopt a more stringent policy, with fixed targets and a commitment from city hall that funds will be provided to create new parks and improve existing off-leash dog parks.

The groups also want the city to make the creation of off-leash parks mandatory, at the developers' expense, when approving new subdivisions.

"This report did not do a good job in thoroughly consulting with a broader cross-section of dog owners and dog people across the city," Coun. Jeff Browaty said, adding Winnipeg doesn't provide enough amenities for people who own dogs.

The committee sent the proposals back to the city administration for review and another report in July.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2014 A8

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