Saskatchewan

Seasonal off-leash dog park approval at Regina city hall called a 'Band-Aid'

Regina's city council has taken a minor step closer to a goal, that was stated years ago by administration, of bringing five new dog parks to the city.

2 dog parks in rinks best-suited for small dogs and limited to 5 months in operation per year

Clean-up at the in-rink dog parks will be tackled by volunteers. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

Regina City Council has taken a minor step closer to a goal, that was stated years ago by administration, of bringing five new dog parks to the city.

Two new seasonal parks were approved at the Monday meeting at City Hall, to only operate five months of the year. They are located at the Joanne Goulet boarded rink and North West Leisure Centre boarded rink.

Council's discussion was much broader on Monday, however, as the dog parks have been in talks since 2016.

"We want a much bigger strategy for the rest of the city and the administration will be tasked with coming back with a strategy very quickly on that one," Mayor Michael Fougere told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

Fougere said the city wants at least three year-round off-leash dog parks in the city as soon as possible, as there is a demand for more space.

"I think the boarded rinks serve a purpose for some people that live in those areas. On Rochdale, for example there's a lot of apartments there, and when I drive down that street everyday and I see them heading to places that would work as really good gathering spaces for small dogs," said Connie Buchan, of the Off Leash Dog Park User Group (OLDPUG), said at Monday evening's meeting.

Buchan's group came ahead with the proposal that council pondered on Monday, which led to a spirited discussion over what some see as the city administration's long history of kicking the can on making new off-leash dog parks.

There are currently only two permanent parks in the city, said Lynda Schofield, who was involved in past steering committees for dog parks in Regina.

"The history of off leash space here is one of delay and denial," Schofield said.

She called the rinks "Band-Aid" solutions to the need for fenced dog parks.

"They do little to address space for larger dogs or for larger numbers of dogs and their owners to meet and walk together in an appealing location," she said.

One resident spoke against the motion for the parks, saying he was concerned about the noise levels disrupting life for people living in a nearby condominium.

There are more than 30,000 dogs in Regina, and the limited off-leash parks available to them and their owners elicited a response from councillor Sharron Bryce.

"I think we make a promise that we're going to do something and here we are three years later still talking about it and still needing to do consultation about it," Bryce said. "And it's a little bit frustrating to me." 

Councillor Mike O'Donnell introduced an additional motion to push things ahead.

Administration is now tasked with putting together a report by the end of the fourth quarter of 2019 to come up with potential locations for off-leash parks.

With that, council will pick the prime locations and then a consultation plan will be put into place, according to administration.

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