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Dog days ahead

Plans for St. Albert’s first official dog park were unleashed for St. Albert residents this week.

Plans for St. Albert’s first official dog park were unleashed for St. Albert residents this week.

Community members were invited to Sir George Simpson school Wednesday to review three potential designs for an off-leash dog park on Levasseur Road, between Hudson Road and 170th Street.

Visitors were encouraged to leave comments that will help council make a final decision later this year.

The designs are different, however all three call for 20 parking spots, benches, garbage bins and greenery placed along the south side of the park that would act as a visual buffer for residents on the other side.

John Younie, manager of major projects and parks planning, said the largest difference between the three is how the park will be enclosed. One drawing shows a chain link fence, a second displayed a wooden rail and post enclosure and a third used natural greenery to keep dogs in, using plants with sharp thorns to discourage wandering.

The three designs range in cost from $140,000 for option 1, $150,000 for option 3 and $190,000 for option 2.

Council approved $140,000 in the 2010 budget. Another $100,000 is in the 2011 budget to add off-leash features to Lacombe Lake Park.

“Generally, people have been very supportive of all three concepts,” said Younie. “We may not be able to do an options that will make everyone happy, unfortunately,”

Current bylaws allow dogs to roam off leash in most city parks, provided the animals are under an owner’s control. Dogs are not allowed off leash in multi-use trails or near playgrounds.

City councillor Lorie Garritty, whose dog was a prominent feature of his last electoral campaign, said he was impressed with the three choices available to residents. Feedback during the last election showed him there are many dog owners in the area, underscoring the need for an off-leash area.

Garritty observed a variety of opinions on the designs.

“Any change you suggest people will be for and against it,” said Garritty. “One person said it was too small and felt it should be moved to another location.”

Geri Salmon, a Heritage Lakes resident and mini-schnauzer owner, said the chain-link fence was the only enclosure option that made sense to her.

“I go to Lacombe Park and they have the wood and post and the dogs can get under that,” she said. “You don’t want a little dog to get hit or cause an accident.”

Dog owner Dawn Leverenz said she first thought the Levasseur Road spot was not a good choice, but slowly realized how much benefit there would be to the area. However, she said the addition of a dog agility area or a wooden rail and post fence could be more costly to maintain.

Younie conceded such features would require more maintenance for public works.

“There may be more maintenance on the post and rail or the dog agility, but not a lot.”