Downtown dog park receives rough ride
Off-leash facility at Bonnycastle Park delayed to allow consultations with owner of neighbouring tower
During the dog days of summer, Mayor Brian Bowman hoped to see an off-leash park open in downtown Winnipeg by fall 2016, but the proposal received a rough ride.
The construction of a 16,000-square-foot off-leash area in one corner of Bonnycastle Park, along the north side of the Assiniboine River, has been delayed to allow city officials to consult with the owner of the 300 Assiniboine residential project.
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Crystal Developers, which has spent $80 million building the 25-storey tower, said the city did not engage in any formal consultations about the change in land use right next door.
"The building was designed to look out over Bonnycastle Park. It was not designed to look over a dog park," said Heidi Spletzer, Crystal's vice-president.
She said the city instructed her firm to place floor-to-ceiling windows on the east facade of the building's main floor, rather than a less expensive wall, to face Bonnycastle Park. Crystal was also instructed to remove shrubs at the edge of its property, she said.
The dog-park design calls for the return of those shrubs as well as a new fence, Spletzer said.
Tenants at 300 Assiniboine, which opened in December, are not allowed to have dogs, she added, questioning why the city chose to place a dog park next to a building that isn't pet-friendly.
As a result of Crystal's concerns, the dog park is on hold to allow consultations to take place about the land-use change next door, Bowman said.
"It has been delayed so the public service can continue the dialogue with them," the mayor said Wednesday at city hall, following the first executive policy committee meeting of 2017.
"My preference would have been consult once and then build. They need to consult twice, certainly with a property owner directly affected."
Bowman said Bonnycastle Park was selected as the dog-park location after the city sought public opinion about the options. He said he does not believe the city will choose another site after consultations with Crystal conclude.
The developer started work on 300 Assiniboine after the city cancelled a plan to allow the apartment block to rise on a surface parking lot on Fort Street, west of what's now Upper Fort Garry Provincial Heritage Park.
The site where Crystal wanted to build remains a parking lot.