Local dog owner wants improvements for dog park

A user of Thompson’s dog park off Baffin Crescentsince it opened, Sharon Wilson spoke during the June 23 recreation and community Services committee meeting about how the off-leash area could be improved.

Wilson is part of a group of residents who meet at the dog park every weeknight and hang out with their four-legged friends. The group sat down and wrote a list of nearly 30 points of improvement they’d like to have happen.

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Wilson says the first major problem is the puddles of water in the park, on the sand where the old baseball diamond was. With the standing water being there dogs urinate in it, and drink it, which can cause infections and contamination.

Oswald Sawh, with the Thompson Humane Society, says after talks with John Burrows, the director of recreation, parks and culture, that the city is aware of the problem. “[John Burrows] said that the city has committed to building a mound to make sure there is no more large areas of water.”

Wilson noted that it would be nice to have some type of water feature or tap in the park for the dogs to be able to get water, but Sawh says that is an expensive digging project, that money would have to be raised for.

The second issue facing many puppy parents is the lack of garbage bins in the park. Wilson says there isn’t one by the gate, and when cleaning up after their dogs, people have to walk across the whole park to dump their doggy doo-doo bags. Sawh also noted that placing another bin in the park by the gate would have to come from fundraising money, since the bins are expensive.

Wilson is bothered by the response that people believe the park to be a no cost item for the city. “I think my biggest concern when I first talked to John Burrows was that they anticipate the park to be a no-cost item, and I think that’s a dangerous way of doing it. It may be a low-cost item, and you can call on park volunteers to help, but I think they need to have a budget.”

Since speaking to the committee over a month ago, Wilson says no one has contacted her with a plan or a timeline. Wilson says users of the dog park are willing to help out but a two-way conversation has to happen. “We can help write letters, make phone calls, and stuff like that, as long as we know what the city wants. Since I presented no one has been in touch with me. We need to have the communication. The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing.”

The issue of dog poop bags has come up multiple times, Wilson mentioned. Although she brings her own bags, she’s noticed the bag holder being empty, and dog feces on the park grounds, since owners might have forgotten their own bags.

Sawh says it’s recommended that owners bring their own bags, or contact the City of Thompson if the bag dispenser is empty, and workers will refill it.

The need for a second gate was also spoken about during the committee meeting, and Sawh believes that’s a needed feature. Wilson says there have been times where dogs have gotten out, and had to be chased back, and even have gotten out through gaps in the fences. Although Sawh says it’s a good idea, he reiterated that money for a new gate would have to happen through fundraising.

Wilson says there are plenty of owners willing to help out and make the park exactly what it has the potential to be, but the discussions need to happen. Sawh says currently he’s hoping to plan a meeting with dog owners, and in September to have a public meeting to create a dog park committee.

When the committee is set Sawh hopes to sit down and map out a work plan, and prioritize what issues need to be fixed right away, and what ones can wait. There is also hope for agility equipment to eventually be put up in the park, which Sawh hopes to discuss with the city and the planned dog park committee.

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