Letter: No parks for middle-class urban dogs

There is a sad divide between wealthy dogs and middle-class dogs when it comes to green spaces or water.

To the editor:

Kelowna’s dog park survey has progressed to consulting local residents.

If locals say “no” to the proposed dog beaches, the issue may be shelved for years.

If  “yes,”  the city may claim time, perhaps years, to find development funding for the dog beaches.

That said, only two of the four locations have a chance to become a dog beach. One is the doggy-dip by the Sails to cool visiting dogs, and the other is the Cedar Avenue Beach access.

The Lake Avenue site is within a residential location, and has only six parking spaces. A better choice would be in City Park by the bridge, where there is more parking and vehicle traffic from the bridge would dampen any sounds of barking.

The Poplar Point beach access is too small for more than two dogs at a time.  Even so, it would need to be fenced to prevent a dog accidentally running into traffic from the lake. Also, if a dog or person were to be injured while crossing to the beach, the city could be liable.

Why is the city ignoring Sutherland Park? It could become a dog beach again without costly development.

If Cedar Avenue is blessed with a “yes” from locals, the cost to develop the three properties would be close to that provided to the Kelowna Paddle Centre’s development which, with fewer than 1,000 members, was given a five-year lease of the four lots as well as a clubhouse.

In contrast there are at least 38,000 dog owners left without a dog beach downtown while the city has delayed development of the remaining Abbott Street properties to 2027.

Have dog owners no voice in city hall?

If developed to a downtown park standard, Cedar Avenue dog beach could become a template for other dog beaches, hopefully in locations already semi-developed, like Sutherland Park and City Park along the bridge.

The dog owners who are most underserved with dog beaches and dog parks live mainly in Kelowna’s urban sectors. They do not live on an acreage, on waterfront properties, or near large regional parks where dogs on leash are allowed. There is a sad divide between wealthy dogs and middle-class dogs when it comes to green spaces or water.

The City of Kelowna has a duty to level that divide by providing dog beaches where needed, as well as .72-hectare dog parks in all residential sectors. And it must maintain these parks as it does parks that are not exclusively for dog owners.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna