Manitoba

Brenda Leipsic dog park opening shelved, possibly for 1 year

Dog owners hoping to use the new Brenda Leipsic off-leash park are going to have to keep waiting — possibly for another year.

Turf conditions too vulnerable to damage after extremely wet fall season, city says

Dog walkers in southwest Winnipeg have been waiting since 2017 for a new park. (Shutterstock / Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin)

Dog owners hoping to use the new Brenda Leipsic off-leash park are going to have to keep waiting — possibly another year.

The signs that hung for months at the entrance to the new park in southwest Winnipeg, proclaiming an opening in October 2019, were quietly removed as October came and went. But the padlocks remain on the gates.

"Turf conditions are not sufficiently established and would not withstand anticipated traffic. The park needs another growing season without dogs and people walking on it," a city spokesperson staid in an email to CBC News.

"We hope to have an interim solution in place shortly."

The original Brenda Leipsic park was located in a 16-hectare triangular section of grass and forest off Hurst Way and Parker Avenue in an area known as the Parker Lands. A large chunk of it wasn't formally part of the park, but the privately owned area was unofficially used and cleaned by the dog walkers. 

The gates remain padlocked at the new Brenda Leipsic off-leash dog park. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

It was all closed to the public in spring 2017, as the city began work on the Southwest Rapid Transitway, which now bisects that land and links up with Pembina Highway.

The city created a makeshift spot surrounded by orange snow fencing close to Parker Avenue. The 1.5-hectare site opened in September 2018 as a one-year interim fix.

Now it seems it will be a lot longer.

The new seven-hectare park, though it is complete with benches, paths, a picnic shelter, large swaths of open field and wooded areas, cannot be used.

"We're disappointed. If we do have to wait now until [next] fall, it is disappointing and it is frustrating," said Cas Acland, chair of the board for the Brenda Leipsic Dog Parkers Association, which worked closely with the City of Winnipeg on the design and location of the new park.

"Everyone's sitting at home with their their pups that want to explore what's going to be a really amazing dog park in the city."

The temporary park, surrounded by snow fence, is just 1.5 hectares in size. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

In spite of the setback, Acland said she understands the city's reasoning.

"I think we also collectively understand that should we need to wait, it's because it's in the best interest of the park itself and the longevity of the park," she said.

"Everyone's talking about how wet the fall was and that just made it kind of mush in there. So if they were to open the park with the pups running around and people trampling all over it, it would just be an absolute mess and really hard to come back from."

In the meantime, the temporary park — tantalizingly close to the new one — is there for people to use.

"It's not ideal but … we do still have that," Acland said.

Footprints in the snow beyond the gates to the new dog park suggest some animals have been enjoying the space, but dog walkers still need to wait. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

There is some confusion, however, as to when the new park might actually be ready to welcome its first wagging guests.

Acland was under the impression that about half of it would open once the ground is frozen enough to prevent too much damage. In spring, that section would then be closed while the other half was opened up.

Then, by fall, the entire park would be available to explore.

In an emailed statement, the city said those timelines are still up in the air.

"We hope to be able to open a portion of the park as an intermediary measure but don't currently have any firm plans," the statement says.

"We will continue to monitor the turf conditions but estimate next fall for the full park."

The new seven-hectare park is complete with benches, garbage cans, paths, a picnic shelter, large swaths of open field and wooded areas. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

About the Author

Darren Bernhardt

Reporter/Editor

Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, first at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories and features. Story idea? Email: darren.bernhardt@cbc.ca

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