Letter: Half acre for dogs is too small

I encourage the city councillors and staff to come to Central Green and Mission Creek Park off-leash parks when it’s busy…

To the editor:

Re: Online Off-leash Dog Park feedback.

I am disappointed that Kelowna city staff has made two crucial errors in two sentences on their home page for dog parks and then created a huge mess and wasted taxpayers money and time trying to correct the errors.

The form says: “Please note, Q.6 [(http://www.kelowna.ca/CM/Page269.aspx)]: “The best management practice minimum size for an off-leash dog park is 0.4ha (as per the American Kennel Association). This is the approximate size of the Mission Recreation Off-leash Dog Park.”

“That is not the approximate size of Mission Recreation Dog Park, Mission Recreation Dog Park is 0.72ha. Knox Mountain Off-leash Dog Park is closer at 0.38. We apologize for the error. The question will not be included in the final report and the open ended responses will be used anecdotally. “

Three mistakes in five sentences does not give me confidence the city knows what they are doing about off-leash parks.

The first error is “The best management practice minimum size for an off-leash dog park is 0.4ha (as per the American Kennel Association).”

I have downloaded and read the document: “Establishing a Dog Park in Your Community,” by the American Kennel Club. (and attached it to this email) I have searched the document for the  words: “best management practice minimum size.” Those words do not exist in that document.” In fact the words, “best management practice” do NOT appear in that document.

The actual words in the document, from page 17 are: “The ideal dog park should include one acre or more of land…”

There is a huge difference between “ideal” and “best management practices.” Ideal leaves room for options. Best management practices leaves no room for change or options because any change would be going against best management practices.

The second error relates to “This is the approximate size of the Mission Recreation Off-leash Dog Park.” This blatantly untrue as another letter to the editor writer pointed out. To correct this second error, the city staff has apologized for the error and made the correction to the page. What they did not do is change question #6 inside the survey, which still reads: “0.4 ha (approximate size of the Mission Recreation Off-leash Dog Park).”

By correcting the second error on the front page and not in the survey, the staff  has created the third problem: There are only four choices for the size of the off-leash park with .04ha being the largest size.  For respondents who chose ‘other’ and used the open response area and asked for larger off-leash parks especially for larger dogs, the city staff have decided: “The question will not be included in the final report and the open ended responses will be used anecdotally.”

So what was the point of asking citizens to give their thoughtful opinion and ideas about the size of the parks, off leash areas and new water park areas of dogs when the city staff has already decided that the off-leash parks won’t be larger than 0.4 ha which they have unilaterally and incorrectly decided is ‘best management practice’?

Guardians of goldens, labs, Bernaise, Aussie sheperds, border collies and mixed breed dogs who use the large dog off-leash parks, already know 0.4 ha park is not large enough to include both large breeds and small breeds nor is it large enough for large breeds to exercise when there are 10 or more large dogs present.

If the city council decides on our off-leash dog park size based on this survey, it has not solved the problem. Even worse, if there is even the slightest chance that the words 0.4 ha (approximate size of the Mission Recreation Off-leash Dog Park) were used in the “statistically valid telephone survey” which taxpayers are paying money to conduct, then all that money has gone to waste too. I would hope the city council will verify the questions in the survey they’re paying for and ensure only correct information is contained in that survey.

I encourage the city councillors and staff responsible for off-leash parks to come to Central Green (Richter/Rowcliffe) and Mission Creek Park off-leash parks when it’s busy with dogs and guardians: 7 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Talk to the dog guardians about what is needed for large dogs off-leash areas.

Bring your open mind and a note book and learn about the ‘anecdotal’ ideas we have to create better off-leash dog areas, not just parks, for both small and large dogs. Make our ‘anecdotal’ stories part of your decision making process.  Oh, and if you’re coming to the Central Green off-leash area, you may have trouble parking. The Christmas trees are still blocking part of the parking area.

Marilyn Strong,

Kelowna

 

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