Kelowna’s dog park dreams put off

Fido’s fantasies of a watery frolic will have to wait at least another year, much to the dismay of those who have been lobbying for a lakeside pooch park.

“It’s disappointing,” said Kitrin Neeland, of the Okanagan Dog Owners Association, following news that city council felt the best way forward with the contentious dog park issue was to put out a survey in 2012, assuming $25,000 needed for the endeavor was available.

Through that survey, the city will suss out current patterns of use, potential issues, compliance rates and areas of conflicts.

“In terms of the city doing another survey, there’s no need. We don’t need to put this back any longer,” said Neeland, adding there are an ample amount of off-leash parks already.

“There is need for beach-front dog park. There’s so much space in this town, there’s got to be room somewhere.”

While the bulk of city councillors thought the idea of the 2012 study indicated an appetite to move forward on the issue in the best way possible, Coun. Charlie Hodge echoed Neeland’s sentiments the day earlier, and was noticeably ruffled by the direction laid out by staff in the dog study.

“I am disappointed in this report—I have found the tone of the report to have a negative edge,” he said, indicating he’d rather see an interim park open in the summer than have survey taken some time in the offing.

“Because we have no dog accessible (water) parks, we have a whole bunch of people regularly breaking our bylaws. We don’t have the people or the time to enforce those bylaws.”

Hodge went on to say that the perception he’s beaten the issue to death is erroneous, but it’s high time that there’s some effort to allow dogs access to waterfront parks, and a survey is little more than a waste of money.

“We have one petition with 850 names on it, and there was a march in the summer that shows there are a great amount of people who feel there are a great need for (water) parks.”

Hodge conceded that there is one water park available to dogs, but pointed out it’s a nudist spot near Cedar Creek, and that’s not an area most tourists, let alone locals, would like to tread.

“Do we want to be perceived as a dog friendly community?” he said.

While Hodge was passionate in his fight for a dog park, the rest of council agreed that the budget didn’t have room for the expenditure and the city is dog-friendly enough considering the economic conditions at present.