Manitoba

Winnipeggers' wheelchairs stuck in mud, snow in city parks

Winnipeg dog owners who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids say they're frustrated with the state of some city parks, which they cannot access due to mud, ice and snow.
Kathleen Kirkman recently took her dog Harry to Kilcona Park, but she says the lack of paved paths makes it difficult for her to reach the off-leash area. (CBC)

Winnipeg dog owners who rely on wheelchairs and other mobility aids say they're frustrated with the state of some city parks, which they cannot access due to mud, ice and snow.

Residents like Kathleen Kirkman say they can't use public parks for much of the winter, when the snow is not cleared, or when the mud surfaces in the spring.

Kirkman said she would take her dog Harry to Kilcona Park more often, but many of the paths there are not paved.

The wheels of Kirkman's scooter spin in the mud during a recent trip to the park's off-leash area. (CBC)

She recently tried to take Harry to the park's off-leash area, but her scooter's wheels soon started spinning in mud, water and ice.

"For handicapped people who do have animals [and] try to care for them, [they] end up getting very frustrated because it's almost like we're thwarted from doing so," Kirkman said.

Zoria Low, who uses walking sticks to move around, says muddy dirt paths and uncleared snow means the park's off-leash area is off-limits for her.

As a result, she often has to watch her dog from a bench a distance away.

"There's no need for this, for people getting stuck in wheelchairs in the mud. They have a right to be out there," she said.

Kirkman said the lack of accessibility at some city-run parks is an annual problem.

"I think that you're going to see more and more people who have disabilities, with [multiple sclerosis] sky high in this province, so there'll be people who will need to have access, who won't give up their animals, because that's their family," she said.

City officials told CBC News that accessibility issues are being considered as parks are redeveloped.

A new strategic master plan is in the works for Kilcona and Harbourview parks. Public consultations will begin this spring.

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