Dog owners in Prince Rupert have been asking for a dog park for a time and council is now looking into just what would be involved in opening one inside the city.
At the council meeting last week, city staff presented councillors with a report that gives a three possible options for opening a dog park.
The first option staff came up with would be to redevelop one of the school district’s many vacant school properties. Staff point out that this option has some potential drawbacks, such as the cost of construction, maintenance and other liabilities.
The second option is to turn one of the under-used baseball parks, such as Crestview, Kootenay or Doug Kerr fields, into a park. Based on their preliminary research the city staff estimated that it will cost $65,000 to convert a baseball park into a dog park, and cost $5,000 a year to maintain.
Doug Kerr Field is the option bearing the most consideration because, as city manager Gord Howie points out, the mostly abandoned baseball field is already being used as a dog park by many people. The cost to convert any of the three baseball fields is estimated to be about the same.
The third option is to fence-off a portion of McClymont park and trail along Hays Creek. Staff estimated that to create a dog park there would cost $95,000 and cost an extra $15,000 year from the city’s parks budget. And that doesn’t even cover the cost of fixing some drainage issues and putting lighting on the trail.
“The difference in the cost is that while the existing ballparks have maintenance crews in the area that can assimilate it into the current works, but this would be a new cost,” says city planner Zeno Krekic.
Many councillors felt that the staff’s cost estimates were far more expensive that they thought it should be.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around how it would cost $65,000 to turn Doug Kerr field into a dog park,” says Councillor Anna Ashley.
The city planner explained that the field would need a new six-foot fence, a controlled entrance, signs and money to cover the city’s liability for running the park. Despite this explanation, councillors remained incredulous about the cost of a park.
“I’m still trying to figure out the $65,000, that just doesn’t add up for me,” says Ashley.
Councillor Gina Garon suggested that perhaps the dog park was a luxury that the City can’t afford right now.
Councillor Ashley suggested if they used the much more isolated McClymont park they could save money by not having a fence. Krekic said that if the City was going to run an off-leash dog park, it had a responsibility to have it secured because of its proximity to residences and a trail used by some who might not like dogs.
Ashley pointed out that other municipalities have dog parks with no fence and some with only a regular four-foot fence and some only off-leash during certain times of the day. She argued that the City should look into how these places manage their liability before deciding to pay for an expensive six-foot fence.
Council decided to have staff research some implementable options for turning either Doug Kerr field or McClymont park into a dog park , or possibly both.