Letter: Dog park statistics ‘misleading’

It is no comfort to dog owners to know that they can walk their dog on leash in Knox Mountain Park…when their local park prohibits them…

To the editor:

Dog owners and non-dog owners alike may wonder, for different reasons, about the need for the city’s dog park survey, on-line questionnaire and eventual open houses. Dog owners may ask why their years-long appeal for more dog parks in residential communities, where they are needed and for another dog beach, is being reviewed in a tax-paid information gathering.

Meanwhile, non-dog owners reading online statistics that claim 76 per cent of greenspaces in Kelowna allow dogs on or off leash may well wonder if dog owners’ demands are unreasonable.

If people are puzzled by the 76 per cent figure, they need to realize that parks in and around Kelowna, varying greatly in size, do not lend themselves well to meaningful statistical summaries. It is no comfort to dog owners to know that they can walk their dog on leash in Knox Mountain Park, or some other large park, when their local park prohibits them from such a mundane activity. Another misleading statistic, although technically true, is that there are nine dog parks in Kelowna, or 7.5 dog parks per 100,000 residents.

Dog parks vary in size from 0.32 hectares to 7.43 hectares, are unevenly distributed in the city and together have an area of just 23.14 hectares, less than half the area of the Mission Sports Fields. With the exception of the 0.32 hectare dog park, the remaining 8 dog parks are listed as natural areas – meaning they are mowed on an as-needed basis. Two of the larger and well used dog parks in residential areas are temporary.

As there are no similar websites listing or summarizing the details of other parks and the facilities offered in them, perhaps the dog statistics are intended to dispel Kelowna’s reputation for being unfriendly to dog owners. It may be that the city believes what is written on their dog park websites, which may also have persuaded non-dog owners into believing dog owners are treated reasonably well.  Whatever the aims of the dog park statistics, it is time for the city and residents to re-examine parks and their uses and to compare dog park numbers to the number of tennis courts, playgrounds, or sports fields that are offered in Kelowna’s parks.

As it was easiest to find sports fields on the city’s parks lists, I offer them for comparison purposes: Not counting fields on school grounds, there are at least 64 sports fields located in just 22 parks that are well distributed among Kelowna’s residential sectors.  Using the same 120,000 population as was used for dog parks, the 64 parks divided by 1.2, came to 53.33 sports fields per 100,000 residents. These are not maintained as natural areas, as most dog parks are and no sports field is 0,32 hectares in size.

I hope this information will be helpful to dog-owners and non-dog owners alike when responding to the city’s telephone survey, on-line questionnaire and eventual open houses.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna


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