Earlier this spring, the future of the Kilcona Dog Park was uncertain.
Now, the park’s overseers are feeling a lot more secure.
Organizers announced, during the 10th Anniversary Dog Fest at the park on Sept. 7, that the park would receive a $20,000 land dedication reserve grant from North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty, who was on hand to make the announcement. Browaty said the grant was expected to be approved at East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee on Sept. 17.
Kilcona Park Dog Club president Donna Henry said the grant will be used to install four new wheelchair-accessible picnic tables, as well as benches along the 10 kilometres of paths that are in the park.
"There’s a real need for them because there are a lot of people who come here that aren’t very mobile. They could be seniors or they could be disabled people," Henry said. "We wanted to get wheelchair-accessible picnic tables into the park to accommodate those people."
Browaty said relations between dog owners and city staff has improved dramatically in recent years, especially with the club taking charge of keeping things clean.
"The city should respond by partnering with them, and I’m happy to provide them with the benches and picnic tables they requested," he said.
The announcement comes after the City of Winnipeg considered plans to redesign Kilcona Park, with infrastructure for everything from dirt biking to dragon boat racing pondered. Some initial proposals recommended cutting back the park’s off-leash area in half. A public forum revealing the city’s plans for Kilcona is expected to be held later this fall.
"The consultants had asked people to send in comments about the park and how they used it. They did that, and what it really was was really a mass letter-writing campaign. The councillors got the message," Henry said. "They realized that dog owners are by far the largest users of the park."
Henry acknowledged there could still be changes to the park, but hopes Browaty’s support will hold off any major reductions of the off-leash area.
"We don’t know what the off-leash area will look like in the future," Henry said. "I can’t imagine that the consultants will do anything to reduce it, but that’s just my personal opinion. I don’t know what’s in the plan."
Kilcona Dog Park has 49 of the city’s 100 hectares of off-leash dog area, and Browaty hopes to keep that area for its users.
"At one point, they were going to take away dog park area, and that, in my mind, is not on," he said.