To the editor:
On July 10 this year, I emailed a modest proposal for the renovation of the small dog park section in Mission Dog Park to the parks and public places manager. (At that time I was still the chairwoman of the Kelowna Dog Association).
I requested a response. None came.
Clearly, my effort to engage the parks department was a waste of time. I would like to share the proposal with your newspaper, so that perhaps it will be read by someone, if not the intended party.
A proposal for renovation of small dog park section of the Mission Dog Park
The small dog section in the off-leash park is an ideal candidate for renovations that would include:
1) Raising the park with soil fill above the water table
2) Covering with turf similar to that used in the sports fields
3) Installing a water fountain for dogs
4) Installing sprinklers
5) Fencing the small park with black chain-link (as used on the sports fields)
6) Installing three or four park benches with cement footings (to avoid grass growing under the benches)
7) Installing a path around the perimeter for wheel chairs and walkers.
With the exception of Duggan off-leash park for small dogs, none of the off-leash dog parks were prepared with turf. What was there when the land was assigned for the off-leash parks is still there largely unchanged.
The proposed small dog park would be an experiment to see how well irrigated turf can withstand dog trampling and dog urine. Unlike users of the large dog section, small dog park users are more inclined to sit and socialize with other people, allowing their dogs to do the same with each other. However, a path around the perimeter would invite some of the visitors to walk about. As it stands, the park is not well groomed, and the surface is irregular, so that people and even dogs can stumble.
People with small dogs are often elderly or have physical challenges. They need a level park surface and path to stay safe from falls. Yes, it will cost money. But please consider that the cost of this park will be only a small faction of what it must have cost to prepare the sports fields in a similar fashion.
Mission Recreation Park covers 33.2 hectares, according to the city’s website. Only 1/45th of it is the off-leash dog park at .72 hectares. The small dog section in turn is only a fraction of the .72 hectares.
Is it really so outrageous to ask that a small dog park, of less than .72 hectares be redesigned to be inviting and safe to people with dogs?
The number of dogs in Kelowna is estimated to be at least 40,000. With each dog having at least two people in his human family, that’s easily 80,000 people who can say they have a dog in the family. These people support a large number of dog-related businesses, year-round, and they also pay property taxes.
The city has demonstrated its goodwill toward dog owners on the lake promenades. On my weekly walk there to fill doggie bag dispensers, I have had my shih tzu photographed many times by visitors as he takes a lap from the doggie fountain by Stuart Park. Visitors are impressed that someone is filling the dispensers and that even a fountain is provided to dogs. On June 31, as I filled dispensers at the canals, three visitors from Australia stopped to thank me how clean the park is.
The off-leash urban dog parks could be just as impressive. And the small dog section at Mission Dog Park would be a good beginning.