Going to the dogs

Before the recent cold snap, I heard chatter on social media about the Deermound Off-Leash Park being extremely busy, so I decided to take a drive past the park.

I also heard the media reports on families adopting COVID-19 puppies and remember meeting dogs at practically every door I knocked on, but given I usually take my little pup Sid to Sally Stewart, I was not expecting to see a full parking lot and a dozen cars parked in the entrance lane and down the highway. Maybe ‘going to the dogs’ is an idiom whose time has come for a refresh.

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Clearly, media reports on the existence of COVID-19 puppies were not fake news.

This realization led to one of those eureka moments. First off, the parking lot at Deermound is not large enough for the number of dogs and owners using the park. I am pleased that after Ward 2 Coun. Dave Anderson and I asked some questions about the status of the parking lot, the county was able to build some additional temporary parking by clearing and packing some snow from the existing lot. However, given the popularity of Deermound, I suspect it is a good idea to look at options of expanding the lot permanently. While I expect some of the attendance numbers to normalize once COVID-19 is behind us, these COVID-19 puppies will still need places to run and have some fun.

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It may also be a good idea to add some additional services at Deermound, including washrooms, some lighting, and electricity hook-ups. I suspect adding places for electricity hook-ups may potentially encourage food and coffee trucks to offer services that the hundreds or regular park-goers may enjoy. Given the long-term outcomes from COVID-19, we should take the opportunity now to lay the groundwork for business development in the future.

In addition to that, after reviewing the approved Strathcona County Recreation and Culture Strategy, it was noted that dog parks were again identified as one of the top five priorities for outdoor amenities in the county. After discussing this with Coun. Anderson and Mayor Rod Frank, and listening to the emails and calls from residents both concerned about loose dogs on the golf course and other places, but also the need for additional dog park space in the county, we jointly put forward a notice of motion that is to be discussed on Feb. 23.

This joint motion is calling for the county to present options to council for consideration by the end of March for potential sites for neighbourhood off-leash dog parks in Strathcona County. Given the need for additional outdoor amenities, the relative low cost for constructing a dog park (compared to building large indoor facilities), the clear need for additional space for our furry friends and the potential for safe opportunities for people to escape isolation and chat with their neighbours, the time is right to look at adding some additional temporary dog parks at some of the under-utilized park spaces that the county already owns.

As the mayor said in The News’ on Feb. 9 edition; “Dog parks create a real sense of community and if we can drive that right in a local neighbourhood, that would give people the opportunities to reach out to their neighbours. There are lots of benefits that come along with it.”
Robert Parks represents Ward 1 in Strathcona County. You can follow him on Facebook at ParksInWardOne, on Twitter @RobertParks247 and on Instagram at RobertParks247. He can be contacted at robert.parks@strathcona.ca or 780-464-8005.

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