BACKGROUND AND STATUS OF BRENDA LEIPSIC DOG PARK:
This off-leash dog park was built as part of the Southwest BRT project, (beginning January 2017) which is not yet deemed completed. We have had access to the Southern 1 hectare area (since November 29, 2019), while the remaining 6 hectares are being further developed. The City of Winnipeg’s Project Manager and the Parks Department have been waiting for our park to be developed to the specifications agreed to in the BRT contract. They have now made their decision on whether they would take possession of the park from the Developer, it is below.
DECISION FROM THE CITY OF WINNIPEG PARKS DEPARTMENT:
“I wanted to update you on the progress of the north portion of the Brenda Leipsic Dog Park and the status for this upcoming fall. As you can imagine, this year was difficult to grow grass from seed with the lack of precipitation. While the turf appears to be green from the other side of the fence and the contractor has made some strides to improve the north portion, deficiencies are still notable: Weeds are still present in the turfgrass stand. Once the weeds are addressed, voids will become present and require seeding.Germination of new seedlings is present, however, they are still immature and need to be established before foot and paw traffic. Our concern is that the newly germinated seed will be ripped or torn out from the soil. Leaving bare areas that will eventually turn to mud.If this area was opened to the public, many of the newly germinated seedlings would not survive to overwinter due to ice formation from compacted snow, leaving those areas void.With drought conditions, the soil surface has cracked and left many ankle breakers towards the NE portion of the dog park. Based on the information above and my professional recommendation, the BLDP north portion will not be ready for acceptance this upcoming fall of 2021. I’m concerned that if we open the north portion of the park to the public before it is ready, it will only be a matter of time until it looks like the south portion. I know how disappointed the public will be, Parks Services is just as disappointed. I feel that if the contractor takes advantage of this upcoming fall, winter and Spring 2022, I believe it should be ready for acceptance by June 2022. The CoW will continue to provide recommendations and feedback to the contractor to help them along with their process.”
RESPONSE FROM BRENDA LEIPSIC DOG PARKERS INC.:
Hello everyone, we are very disappointed to hear of the decision to not open the North portion of the park for Fall 2021, which will have been a 2 year delay from the initial expected opening of October 2019. We appreciate that there have been some challenges regarding the quality of landscaping that was included in the initial park plan. After some further discussion with our Board and dog park users, I have to present some concerns/observations on their behalf.If weeds, voids, bare areas that turn to mud, cracked soil (ankle breakers) are a large concern then should we look at how all those examples are addressed in the other parks? Generally they aren’t, so we ask you, should we be holding out on the development of this park just to reach the standard that you are requiring of the contractor? This is not a golf course or a static park that gets little or no wear. It will have people and dogs walking on it 365 days a year, during all kinds of weather. The realistic expectation is that there will need to be tweaks to the landscaping as we use the park and discover which are the areas that get extra wear from traffic, and which areas fail to thrive because they are more exposed to the elements. Some spots are higher and drier, some are low and will collect water.We all know from experience in the other dog parks that just grass as a ground cover is not sustainable, that the result of wear and tear/ drastic weather /little annual maintenance (spraying for weeds or seeding more grass) means that there needs to be alternate solutions. So we are not understanding why after the additional two years long delay, while literally watching the grass grow, we are still not allowed access to the park. We understand that your concern is that if you “accept” the park as complete that any further expenses will have to be incurred by the City. We are asking that you consider the percentage of areas that DO reach the standard you have set and measure that against the amount of recreation that the entire park would provide. This is a much needed amenity and as much as we appreciate the desire to have it established sufficiently to be acceptable to your ideal, we ask that you recognize that that ideal may be a short-sighted goal. So if we have to wait years for it to be in a final acceptable state, that seems a waste of valuable recreation area, especially now when we are facing another winter of Covid restrictions. We ask that you consider the greater good and let us help to develop this park by using it.A main concern of our group during planning was adequate drainage and we are wondering about plans to address any issues, since as dog owners, we know that even the most perfectly grown, thatched, densely planted grass can also become a mudpit if there is not proper drainage. The main drainage concern we noted during this first year of use in the area we are using and what we have observed outside our designated area, is that there is a buildup of water due to lack of flow along the Water and Waste fence on the West side and there are some low spots on the gravelled path. None of our dog park Board members are professional landscapers but it is clear these concerns should be able to be remedied by just adjusting the level in the ditches. The land that has been moved during construction will still be settling and the weather over these past two years which gave us extreme wet and then extreme dry is maybe not sufficient to bring it all to its final result. We have already had the discussion about potential solutions to the problem of land settling along the South East fence, and causing gaps at the bottom like placing boulders along the outside.We understand from our use of other parks in the City that there will be constant upkeep required and we expect that like other parks we will have a strong group of volunteers that will help keep it clean and help address any other maintenance issues (like spot checking daily and spreading wood chips on wet or worn patches or spreading sand on icy patches). We are asking that you let us access the larger area of the park, in anticipation that we will have greater concerns than whether the grass cover is spotty, like adding landscaping that will sufficiently withstand the equipment required when emptying the garbage bins, and addressing possible alternate remedies for the trouble spots, like wood chips or sturdier ground cover, like clover. There was some discussion about requesting the developer to move the fencing to new sections while they did spot treatments, (so we don’t need to worry about equipment and dogs mixing) to complete the remainder of the landscaping. Please strongly consider this option, that while slightly more complicated, seems a fair compromise. With the goal of having a successful outcome, we suggest that it may be possible to allow us to use the better established areas and we could have the added advantage of being able to identify high use areas, modifying things as needed while the developers are still on site, and rehabilitating the South portion. Call it a dynamic test! There needs to be some balance that will benefit us all!