Yellowknife plans new off-leash trail as dog poop emerges from winter slumber

Yellowknife is dealing with twin canine quandaries this week: how to clean up after the spring melt, and where to put a new off-leash dog park.

Scoop the Poop rolls out this week to combat ‘gross’ excrement after spring thaw

A dog roams the Canadian shield near Yellowknife. The City is pondering three new locations for an off-leash area, and going ahead with a new Scoop the Poop campaign. (Peter Sheldon/CBC)

Yellowknife is dealing with twin canine quandaries this week: how to clean up after the spring melt, and where to put a new off-leash dog park.

"Pretty messy. Pretty gross," is how dog walker Tiarella Hanna describes the piles of dog excrement revealed by melting snow at popular trails like Tin Can Hill.

Tiarella Hanna, who spends a third of her week walking locals' dogs, says the condition of trails like Tin Can Hill makes a new, fifth off-leash area vitally important. (CBC)
Hanna, who spends a third of her week walking locals' dogs, says the condition of trails like Tin Can Hill makes a new, fifth off-leash area vitally important.

Dave Hurley, facilities manager at the City of Yellowknife, believes many residents agree.

Hurley and the city held an open house on Tuesday to gather feedback on possible locations for a new off-leash area. Three candidates identified so far include Niven Lake, the downtown toboggan hill, and an area behind the city's fieldhouse.

"You want to make sure it's not in an area where kids play a lot. Also, if we're going to put out garbage cans and bags, it's got to be accessible for us to maintain," said Hurley.

"You just have to look at the weather now as the snow starts to disappear. It's a never-ending task to keep it as clean as we can."

This map shows three areas under consideration for a new off-leash dog walking area. (City of Yellowknife)

When it comes to locations, Hanna thinks the city is barking up the wrong tree.

"None of those offer nice, clean water for dogs," she said of the city's early choices.

The City's Dave Hurley held an open house on Tuesday to gather feedback on possible locations for a new off-leash area. (CBC)
"That's important in the summer so they're not overheating, they have somewhere to drink and your dog doesn't come home smelling like a sewage lagoon.

"They're not really large areas and they're not very scenically nice, too, for humans. People want to go and exercise with their dogs — it's not just about the dogs, it's about humans interacting with their dogs and enjoying their time together."

Hanna says the back section of the Frame Lake Trail, wrapping around the lake itself, is a better option.

"It's not a well-used area and it's a safe spot," she said.

'We're encouraging residents to clean up after your dog for a healthy community,' says Richard McIntosh. (CBC)
Residents have until mid-May to leave feedback. The city is, for the first time, using an online discussion system named PlaceSpeak to gather residents' views.

Meanwhile, Yellowknife's first-ever Scoop the Poop campaign rolls out this week in a bid to get people cleaning up after their pets.

Each year, the city gets through 19,000 disposal bags in dispensers placed along trails — roughly one for every resident.

"Certainly, it's a mess to walk in," said Richard McIntosh, a communications and economic development officer with the City of Yellowknife. 

"We're encouraging residents to clean up after your dog for a healthy community."