The Kilcona Park Dog Club has changed its position on the plans to revamp Kilcona Park.
In an interview at an open house on Nov. 6, club president Donna Henry said, "On balance it’s, I’m not going to say right, but it’s pretty good."
However, Henry said she received over 50 phone calls from club members in the days after the open houses on Nov. 6 and Nov. 10.
"Other people had an opportunity to look at it, I guess, in more detail than I did," Henry said. "There are a lot of complaints coming in about what the plan is."
As part of the proposed plan, the dog park’s off-leash boundaries are slated to change. The park is set to be fenced off, and members will lose access to the pond trails that are currently part of the northeast part of the dog park.
"There’s no other sheltered spot to walk in the entire park," Henry said. "Dog owners won’t have access to pond trails in the wintertime, so essentially what will happen is they’ll be contained in the landfill area, but there aren’t any trees there.
"I don’t know why the city wouldn’t give people access to the ponds in the winter. As far as I know, there are no plans for winter use."
Henry said the landfill hill is too windswept to use in the winter, and the trails do not get plowed.
Though the dog park is losing some of its area in the northeast, it will be gaining some land to the south of its current location. However, Henry said dog owners won’t be able to access the new area until the sports fields that are currently on the site are moved to their new site in the park.
Project manager Rob Zanewich stressed dog walkers are still allowed to access the ponds — but dogs must be leashed and picked up after. He also noted that plans to change the boundaries are still three to six years away, and the sports fields would likely be moved before the dog park boundaries are changed.
As well, the project, expected to be completed over 10 to 15 years over two phases, still needs to secure its funding before proceeding.
He added the off-leash area is allotted approximately 40% of the usable land in the park, and in the proposal, the size is approximately 20% larger than the Kildonan Park Golf Course.
"We realize that the dog park, the off-leash area, is the most-used area of the park at this point. We’re hoping to bring many more people into the site," he said. "They’ve got a good portion of the park."
Henry said the new treed areas that will be added to the park are too small to compensate for the loss of access to the pond trails. She also expressed disappointment that though there will be new paved trails in the park, the bulk of trails in the dog park itself will still be unpaved.
"Disabled dog owners are saying there seems to be a real bias in the plan," Henry said.
Zanewich said the dog park will have some paved trails on the west side, and other added areas will make the park more accessible.
"Both the area to the south and the area to the west were considered (for inclusion) because they provide an accessible area for dog use," Zanewich said. "Those who might have difficulty climbing the hill to the off-leash area will have more of an accessible area down on the south side and west side of the park."
Henry said she believes there are some positives to the plan as well, but must be conscious of what members desire.
Zanewich said the proposal is not set in stone, and the city is still accepting feedback from residents until Nov. 29. For more information on the project, visit http://winnipeg.ca/ppd/planning/KilconaParkHarbourviewRecreationComplex/default.stm