Off-leash park a go

Preliminary work will start right as soon as tenders can be put out to create a new off-leash park for dog owners in the City of Red Deer.

Jennifer and Vaughn Allcock walk along the bike path at Three Mile Bend Recreation Area with their two dogs Bruiser and Brooke. The couple recently moved to Red Deer from North Battleford and believe the off leash park is one of the best things about Red Deer.

Preliminary work will start right as soon as tenders can be put out to create a new off-leash park for dog owners in the City of Red Deer.

City council unanimously agreed on Monday to a plan that would take 40 acres from a closed landfill site, directly east of Westerner Park, to create the The Oxbow off-leash park.

The name reflects the nature of neighbouring Piper Creek and also acknowledges the recycled nature of the land itself, which has gone through a series of transitions from virgin prairie to farmland to landfill to dog park.

While the parcel’s new designation does not become official until spring, some people are already walking their dogs in the area, said David Matthews, parks planning and technical services supervisor, in his presentation.

Designer Barry Gonnelly with L.A. West Inc. described how the area, immediately south of 19th Street, would be configured and landscaped to include a fenced staging area to introduce dogs to the park, an amphitheatre, a gathering area and an agility park.

There will be some restrictions on features that can be built at the park because of the need to protect the seal on the cap covering the landfill, said Gonnelly.

That means no underground services can be put in, which raised some concerns among councillors about whether there could be any toilet facilities for human users.

While other users will not be discouraged from using the park, Gonnelly said it is being developed primarily for people walking their dogs. Part of the trail will be made from recycled concrete.

“Alberta Environment does not want asphalt on this site due to runoff.

“They would rather the water ran into the topsoil,” said Gonnelly.

The entire park will be fenced behind chain link low enough to allow free movement of wildlife through the area while ensuring that dogs are held inside.

Council has given first reading to a bylaw amendment that would change the zoning at the site to allow an off-leash dog park.

The zoning change is to be advertised with second and final readings set for Oct. 19.

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