Off-leash canine parks set to pop up round Edmonton this spring in $300Ok pilot

A new kind of dog park will appear in about 30 Edmonton neighborhoods this spring.

City council’s community and public services committee voted Monday for the city to create up to 30 pop-up off-leash dog parks in a pilot project.

count Michael Janz suggested the city look at more off-leash options.

“Many owners visit dog parks twice a day,” Janz said during the meeting. “Sometimes they visit their local dog park more frequently than a library than a recreation center.”

The project is estimated to cost about $300,000 over six months. Janz argued it’s a good value as the city will offer more places for pets and residents to exercise, interact and meet new people.

“The bang for your buck we get from dog parks is enormous — the social payback is exponential compared to the minuscule investment on the part of the City of Edmonton.”

Since last May, city staff have been analyzing Edmonton neighborhoods to determine which don’t have off-leash areas.

Managers presented the priority list in a report to the committee Monday.

The majority of the proposed pop-up parks are in west and south neighborhoods, with a few in the north.

Westview Village, Edgemont, Jamieson Place, La Perle, Glenora, Windermere and South Terwillegar are on the list.

Other areas earmarked for the pop-ups are Carlton, Meadowlark, Charlesworth, Maple Ridge, Holyrood, Evergreen.

Beckie Bouutilier, the parks program leader for the dog off-leash program, said the city is going to consult the public before finalizing the locations for the pop-up areas.

“Decisions on the final preferred locations will be made following the consultation and made public in the second quarter.”

The city will finalize the list by the end of the winter and start creating the parks in early spring.

The city-led program will add to the 50 existing spaces where dogs can run off leash.

The project falls under the city’s Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy with a shift to increase opportunities for off-leash areas.

For the 2019-2022 budget cycle, administration met its target that 333 of 402 neighborhoods — 83 percent — are within a 20-minute walking distance of an off-leash area.

Address existing gaps

count Erin Rutherford said she supports the move to develop more open spaces for dogs but wonders whether the city has the money to do it.

“Is this pop-up project and the amount of pop-ups realistic given our capacity?”

Gord Cebryk, deputy manager of city operations, said installing the parks can be done within the current budget but paying for bylaw enforcement officers may be another matter.

“I think that’s probably an area that will be subject to some pressure,” Cebryk said.

“Being a pilot, we would be able to assess: is this really something that is a significant issue that needs more resources or are we able to manage it?”

Rutherford also stressed the need for the city to address disparities in existing dog parks.

“I think we need to get right what we currently have.”

Lauderdale Park in her Ward Anirniq doesn’t have a permanent washroom while Jackie Parker Park on the south side does, she pointed out.

She said she’s received many complaints about the new Inglewood Park, which is not fully enclosed.

City administration said it can look at those longer-term capital fixes in addition to the pop-up dog park pilot.

The pilot includes amenities like garbage cans and temporary fencing, estimated to cost $500 to $4,500, for a six-month period.

The pop-up dog parks that share a site with playgrounds and sports fields or are near environmentally sensitive areas, will be partially or completely fenced, the city said.

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