Downtown off-leash park issues cited

Water and fencing are critical to Red Deer’s downtown off-leash dog park, city officials heard at planning sessions this week.

Water and fencing are critical to Red Deer’s downtown off-leash dog park, city officials heard at planning sessions this week.

Close to 50 dog lovers attended two sessions geared to gleam information from the targeted audience of pet owners and those who want a more pet-friendly city about what they want in the small dog park.

The park was given the green light last year and the city is in the early stages of the design.

The meetings were intended to determine the principles of selecting a spot. A location will be chosen once the design is solidified.

Shelley Gagnon, manager of Recreation, Parks and Culture, said they heard some concerns about the size of the park, which she stressed will not be the next Oxbows Off Leash Dog Park. She said the park will be basically a small pit stop for pooches.

“We heard that it was a great idea,” said Gagnon. “People who don’t do it now might be encouraged to take their dogs with them when they go shopping if they knew they had an area where they quickly zip in and have a bit of a pit stop.”

She said the park will also fill a need for those who live downtown with dogs but do not have access to vehicles to visit the city’s larger dog parks.

Attendees stressed the need for access to water and adequate fencing. Some had concerns that Barrett Park was in line to become the next Oxbows.

Gagnon said they are looking at four small city-owned spaces in the downtown and outskirts but are open to parking lots, brown spaces or different areas.

In the spring, the city will bring the design and site options to the community for consultation. The park is expected to be up and running by late spring.

In recent years, there has been demand from the public to make Red Deer a more pet-friendly city.

In August, the city opened transit buses to small dogs and cats for a trial period, until January 2014. Once the pilot wraps up, the city will decide whether to expand the program to include other animals or scrap the undertaking.

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