While a third off-leash dog park is set to open next week, the City of Penticton has shelved plans for a fourth.
In September 2011, the city decided to develop three areas as off-leash dog parks. Two are already open — one on Penticton Avenue near the water plant and another at the old SPCA site — while the third, at the foot of Ellis Avenue, will open Wednesday.
“We’re just waiting for the grass to establish itself to a certain level and then we will open it up,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for the city. “We are very close, the construction is finished.”
The official opening of the Ellis Creek Park has been set for Wednesday at 2 p.m.
“We hope the entire community can drop by Ellis Creek Park as the newest addition to the city’s park network opens to the public,” said Mayor Dan Ashton. “Our parks are embraced by so many residents and users, and we suspect that Ellis Creek’s features will prove popular for years to come.”
The Ellis Creek Park and walkway project transforms a former roadway into green space that will serve as a centralized trailhead. It will be the starting point for pedestrians and cyclists accessing various trails and routes including the Okanagan River Channel, Ellis Creek Walkway, the Trans Canada Trail and local road biking networks. Through construction, old asphalt and road gravels were removed and replaced with new soils, mulches and indigenous trees and shrubs, which will help improve the sensitive creekside riparian ecosystem. Educational signage throughout the site provides information about the creek corridor, which is crucial habitat for many plant and animal species.
In addition, the park features a new fully fenced off-leash area for dogs, complete with furniture, bike racks and potable water. The park is located at 100 Industrial Pl., just off of Industrial Avenue West.
The $130,000 project was bolstered by a provincial LocalMotion grant from 2008 of $47,250 in support of greener, healthier and more accessible communities.
Plans for a fourth park, however, have been cancelled after the Okanagan Skaha School District registered some concerns, as it would have been sited in a nature area near Wiltse Elementary.
Moroziuk said they began consultations with the school before beginning work on the area, since they would be most affected. After hearing their feedback, Moroziuk said they decided not to continue or extend the consultations to the neighbourhood.
“The school is not in favour of development of this area as a dog park. They use that area as a nature area for their students … and they want to be able to continue to do so,” he said.
The school listed concerns that current problems with dogs on the school fields might be carried over into the nature area.
Moroziuk added that the decision to pull back from the planned Wiltse park was also based on lessons learned from operating the first two parks over the last couple of months.
“They generate a lot of traffic. We were very surprised by the number of cars that come to these,” he said. “The Wiltse one is in a residential area, so that is not necessarily compatible.”
But with Wiltse shelved, city council isn’t willing to give up on a fourth park.
“I think there are other areas that do make sense and we should be investigating those,” said Coun. Andrew Jakubeit. “They have been very well received. There is a public demand, so we as council should be looking at doing some more.”
Possibilities for another dog park include the beach on Eastside Road and on the 10-acre block owned by the city on Munson Mountain.