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Dog park developments
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Dog park developments

Happy Monday!

Since he lost his Samoyeds, Terra, Franklin, and Hudson, a couple of years ago, Jeff Henry doesn’t spend much time circling the grassy moors of the off-leash dog park near his home in northeast Winnipeg.

Jeff Henry with his Samoyeds. (Supplied)

Those days are gone, but the 68-year-old good-natured North Kildonan resident has managed to stay connected to the dog-friendly grounds he holds dear to his heart by spearheading what some may call a "very ambitious project."

Eight years ago, Henry, the Kilcona Park Dog Club’s director of marketing, began a four-phase crusade to put in place an operable water fountain at Winnipeg’s largest off-leash dog park on Springfield Road.

As the project manager, Henry oversaw an early feasibility study to find out if installing a water fountain at the Kilcona dog park in Transcona was even possible.

I chatted on the phone with Henry last week about some of the obstacles he faced and he told me that early tests done on the surrounding retention ponds showed the water there was toxic.

“There was no source of water,” he said. “People had been bringing in water for a long time and sharing bowls, causing problems with Giardia.”

Undeterred, Henry and his eight dog-loving board members set out to test the water in a well that was situated in a nearby plumbed gazebo. It turned out to be high in iron, a harmless mineral that Henry knew could be filtered but was otherwise deemed potable.

“The city brought in people that stamped the water not potable and said it couldn’t be used,” said Henry. “They fought back on this for a number of years, it was frustrating.”

Eventually, the two groups came up with an agreement: the city would install a water cistern in the gazebo and keep the waterproof receptacle filled with water from Winnipeg's water system. In return, the Kilcona Park Dog Club and its members would be responsible for installing a fountain, a pad, hoses and a holding tank, which the city would regularly pump out and maintain.

Afterward, a number of fundraising events, including dozens of fifty-fifty draws and raffles, took place at the park.

“We raffled off a trip to Churchill as one of the top prizes,” said Henry.

With some of the funds raised, Kilcona Park Dog Club was also able to install about $150,000 worth of equipment along the way.

“We installed underground waste dispensers and a dog waste bag system,” he said, pointing out that Royal Le Page, one of the club’s 22 sponsors, refills no less than 150,000 poop bags a year into the handy containers. “We also put in park benches and accessible tables.”

Last week, when the taps on the city’s first water bottle filling station, water fountain and slow-draining dog water fountain were turned on, Henry was there.

The water fountain at Winnipeg’s largest off-leash dog park on Springfield Road. (Supplied)

“Finally,” he said. “The water was running and then right after that they drained the tank and blew out the system again.”

The price tag — $54,000 — came in according to plan.

And when the weather warms in the spring, and before the surrounding landscaping is completed and a sponsor recognition rock put in place, the switch will be flipped on once more.

“It’s been a struggle to get this far,” said Henry, who is tapped out after 11 years on the board.

But before he hung up, I asked him about the project’s ambitious third and fourth phases — a dog rinsing station and a dog splash pad. — and he seemed less than optimistic.

“That’s way more money,” he said. “We’d need water and sewer coming across Springfield Road and we’re talking about a million dollars for that kind of project.”

Have a great week!

Leesa Dahl

Leesa Dahl

Ready Pet Go

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