Downtown to get off-leash dog park in 2014

Downtown Red Deer is going to the dogs.

Downtown Red Deer is going to the dogs.

An urban off-leash dog park geared for little pooches will open in 2014.

The site has not been determined nor has the size, says Shelley Gagnon, Recreation, Parks and Culture Department manager.

Next year, the city will talk with the public, select a site, research urban dog parks and develop conceptual designs.

Gagnon said there has been public demand and a desire from city council to become a dog-friendly community.

“We don’t have anything in the downtown area,” said Gagnon. “Both off our off-leash parks are sort of on the outskirts of downtown.”

The Oxbows off-leash dog park in southwest Red Deer near Westerner Park and Three Mile Bend off-leash dog park are the city’s two canine parks.

Gagnon did not have concrete numbers but she said both parks are “very busy.”

Gagnon said an urban dog park will be significantly different than the other parks. For one thing, she said, urban dog parks are built on a much smaller scale and may not have the same features as larger parks like The Oxbows.

City council approved $13,000 for the planning stages of an off-leash dog park in the downtown core as part of its 2013 capital budget approval on Tuesday. Construction in 2014 is expected to cost about $33,000.

Coun. Lynne Mulder said a downtown dog park has always been on the back burner but it was never top of the priority list. This year, there was room in the budget.

Mulder said seniors and physically-challenged individuals living in the downtown core have approached her requesting a smaller downtown park.

“Most of these people cannot make it to Oxbow or Three Mile Bend,” said Mulder. “I think it’s awesome. I think it will be great for that clientele.”

Mulder said the new park is not likely where she will take her golden retriever and black lab because her dogs like the space of the two larger dog parks. Mulder said she hopes there’s some tree planting in the park plans.

“Dogs love trees,” said Mulder. “And that they put some paths in it. I don’t know if it would be half as big as Oxbow. You kind of have to see the space before you know what you can do with it. They will make it interesting. . . . Dogs love to be off the leash so I think it will be good for the dogs and the people.”

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