A dog park for all — one where Sparky or little Bingo can roam free without a leash within walking distance— is the dream of many residential dog owners in Cranbrook.
On Monday, city council directed staff to continue pursuing an agreement between the City and School District 5 to use the former site of Muriel Baxter Elementary school as an off-leash dog use area, despite some opposition amongst councillors.
“I guess really we’re directing staff to pursue an agreement,” Mayor Lee Pratt said.
“My understanding is that this isn’t necessarily written in stone that we actually carry on with the development of the off-leash dog park as we’re going through the budget discussions.”
CAO Wayne Staudt said that the city has been pursuing the arrangement for the park, but he said if they don’t have the money from the budget then they won’t be building the park.
Coun. Wesly Graham wanted council to go a different route, putting forward one of the alternative resolutions — that council does not pursue an off-leash dog use area. Graham did want the words “at this time” added to the alternate resolution.
Coun. Tom Shypitka said that council could keep pursuing the agreement without committing funds.
“That would also come down to discussion of budget,” Shypitka said. “The recommendation could go through, the wheels could be in motion to get this agreement in place but if at the time of the budget we decide that it isn’t in the budget, we could squash it. That kind of gives us some options, instead of just squashing it totally right now.”
Graham said his concerns revolved around further need for comparisons of area between the Muriel Baxter property and what the cost of maintenance year after year will be.
“We do have a lot of other areas where you can run your dog right now,” he said. “I think not pursuing it at this time would give us a bit of a chance to research it a bit more and come back,” Graham said.
The former council allocated $20,000 from the 2014 budget for use on a off-leash dog area. Back at the July 15, 2013 council meeting, the city decided to earmark the funds to fence in the area of Moir Centennial Park. The Muriel Baxter proposal came later.
Coun. Norma Blissett said she thought the Muriel Baxter site would work great.
“I think it’s a great location, it’s central, in town. It’s vacant at this point and it’s already partially fenced,” Blissett said. “The school district is in agreement with us. I think it provides an opportunity for dog owners within walking distance of that area to take their dogs there as an alternative off-leash area.”
Blissett said it provides recreation potential for a segment of the population that isn’t being provided right now.
“I think that’s the role of the city, and it’s not that expensive,” she said.
Coun. Ron Popoff asked whether pursuing meant more significant meetings with the school district.
Staudt said the city has been pursuing the park for quite a while and this was the first time they had received positive indication from the school district.