New dog park mulled for St. James neighbourhood

City Coun. Grant Nordman wants to see if an unused playground can be turned into an off-leash dog park.
St. Charles Coun. Grant Nordman said Voyageur Park could be turned into a dog park which would give residents the chance to let their dogs run closer to home. (Mike Fazio/CBC)

Dog owners in the St. Charles ward will probably lap this up.

City Coun. Grant Nordman wants to see if an unused playground can be turned into an off-leash dog park. 

A recent report by the city's administration recommended against re-purposing Voyageur Park, a four-acre patch of green developed in the 1960s just west of Sturgeon Creek, into a dog park. 

But Nordman said he wants to explore the idea anyway. He said there's nowhere else for dog owners to let their pets run. And if the city doesn't find a use for it, it could be bulldozed. 

"By and large, it's a green space and it has no purpose," he said. "So we're looking for an alternate purpose, other than declaring the whole thing surplus and putting housing on it."

Nordman said the playground structure in the park is old and is slated for removal. He said there are three other playground areas for children nearby.

He said he hears from constituents who say Little Mountain Park, off Route 90 in the rural municipality of Rosser, is a long drive away for dog owners to take their pets. And they are already bracing for the extension of the William R. Clement Parkway, which will spell the end of an off-leash area in Charleswood.

"I'm just trying to give people in my ward an option or an opportunity to stay closer to home," Nordman said. "And four acres is, I think, enough space to provide that opportunity for them."

Fence would keep kids, pets safe 

Nordman said all the off-leash dog park would need is a fence, noting two-meter-high chain link fence would cost between $30,000 and $50,000.

Nordman said there would have to be public consultations, of course, but he said he's not naive enough to expect there won't be opposition, given that there are a number of homes that back onto the park and an elementary school, Voyageur School, nearby. 

"I'm sure there will be pushback from the neighbours," he said. "I'm sure there will be pushback from the school division. But we're going to explore it further." 

Nordman said a new dog park in the city would be put to good use.

"There are more and more dog owners and they need a place to let their dogs go off leash," he said. "This is one possible use for the property."

The two other councillors on the Assiniboia Community Committee, Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) and Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands), agreed with Nordman to continue to look into converting Voyageur Park into an off-leash park, in spite of the administration's recommendation against it.

Nordman said area councillors are not bound to accept those recommendations.

"We pay the administration to give us advice and they're entitled to their opinion," he said.

"But we're going to explore this further. And if it comes to pass that it's not appropriate then something else will get done with the park.

"But this is one way of keeping it green."