Brothers Jason, left, and Duane Pannekoek of Wilkri Irrigation, backfill a trench after installing a sprinkler water line at Sixth Avenue Park’s diamond #2, last Thursday. Barry Stewart/Hope Standard

Brothers Jason, left, and Duane Pannekoek of Wilkri Irrigation, backfill a trench after installing a sprinkler water line at Sixth Avenue Park’s diamond #2, last Thursday. Barry Stewart/Hope Standard

Tails soon to wag at Hope’s very own dog park

'Dog parks encourage a strong sense of community,' says organizer Libby Kirkland

It was all work and no play at Sixth Avenue Park, last Thursday and Friday, as contractors dug deep on two projects that are sure to bring greater value and more visitors to the park.

Wilkri Irrigation of Rosedale was installing an automated in-ground irrigation system at diamond #2 behind the curling rink, while Rite-Way Fencing was digging-in the fence posts for a new off-leash dog park between the curling rink and diamond #1.

Duane Pannekoek, owner of Wilkri, said there would be 45 to 50 sprinkler heads in seven zones. “There’s good pressure,” he added, “and these heads can shoot up to 60 feet.”

Kevin Dicken, director of operations for the District of Hope, said Wednesday that Wilkri had the lowest of three quotes, at $14,000.

“It’s hard to have a functional diamond without green grass in the outfield,” said Dicken. “The idea was to get the irrigation in, to improve the esthetics and functionality of the field. We hope to have it greened up by Brigade Days, when they often have a ball tournament.

“Crews are cleaning up the spoils (dug-up rocks and boulders) this week and will then seed where the soil was disturbed,” said Dicken.

“Typically, the irrigation will be operating within watering restrictions, however it will be scheduled more frequently at first, to grow-in the newly seeded areas.”

Dicken said the diamond #1 outfield had in-ground sprinklers installed previously, before he started working for the district.

He pegged the dog park fencing cost at $10,842.

When completed, the off-leash dog park will include benches for dog owners and a water spigot, provided from District of Hope inventory, said Dicken.

The quest for Hope’s first off-leash park began in 2015, when local dog owner Libby Kirkland saw a possible use for the C. E. Barry school grounds, once the school had been demolished.

“The school district said essentially ‘thanks for the interest’ but that they hadn’t decided on what to do with the school field property,” said Kirkland, Tuesday.

After drumming up more support — and petition signatures — on a Facebook group called “Hope, BC Dog Park” Kirkland went back to the school board and was again turned down.

“I asked our group members to start looking around at other locations in and around the town,” said Kirkland. “We looked at various spaces around town, and ruled each one out: not enough parking, not large enough space, too residential, etcetera. Then one of our members mentioned the space between the curling rink building and baseball diamond at Sixth Avenue.

“I took some photos, and felt that this was by far the best possible space — especially since it was already partially fenced, central, not in a residential area, had three shade trees already a good size, was near washrooms, and had good parking. It also made sense that it was part of the larger recreation area of Hope,” explained Kirkland.

She then went to work, contacting other municipalities and gleaning information that could be used in her presentation to district council.

In May of 2016, she made her first presentation to the District of Hope, including three other possible locations (one of them, Memorial Park) with their inherent pros and cons. Sixth Avenue stood out as the best choice, said Kirkland.

There was a major stumbling block, though. Initial plans included the Hope Curling Club’s southern wall as one of the boundaries of the park — a wall that would likely attract legions of leg-raisers over the years.

Kirkland said district CAO, John Fortoloczky brokered a solution with the curling club in 2017, which would give the club a buffer zone along that wall. This would require an extra fence, at extra expense — but would get the project going.

When complete, there will be a public passageway that also serves as an escape route for anyone using the south side exit from the curling surface.

Once the fences and gates are in place, Hope can let loose its boxes of beagles and buckets of Shih Tzus — speaking of which: it will still be a stoop-and-scoop zone, for dog owners. District crews will be around twice a week to take the waste bin contents to the district’s transfer station, said Dicken.

“We have one of the local vets interested in supplying biodegradable poop bags,” added Kirkland. Signage will also detail other dog park etiquette.

“Dog parks encourage a strong sense of community, providing a place for residents to meet and discuss local issues,” said Kirkland. “They allow dogs to socialize without disturbing other people, property or wildlife and provide seniors and those with mobility issues a place to exercise their companions. Dog parks can also improve tourism.

“Overall, I think this park will be a fantastic addition to Hope — and it’s long overdue,” she said.

Hope Standard