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Kelowna city council has taken a significant step towards building three new dog parks in the city.
On Monday, council asked staff to draw up budgets for the new off-leash areas, including a dog beach at Poplar Point, a small “cooling beach” near the downtown sails, and another on Lake Avenue, which will run for a two-year trial period.
The push for the doggy destinations came in the wake of a report from the city’s parks and buildings planning manager, Robert Parlane.
In his report, Parlane recommended council move forward with four different parks, based on the outcome of a statistically valid survey taken by local residents, and information collected at a series of open houses.
Along with approving the beaches at Poplar Point, the sails and Lake Avenue, he also recommended building a dog park at Cedar Avenue and cautioned against building one at Munson Pond.
Council decided to study a Cedar Avenue park more before making a final decision, and agreed to pass on the Munson Pond park.
But it wasn’t an entirely smooth process.
Parlane presented his recommendations as one package, but Mayor Colin Basran split them into individual votes after council presented divided opinions on some of the locations.
The “cooling beach” at the foot of Bernard Avenue was a source of concern for Couns. Brad Sieben and Mohini Singh, who both voted against it.
Singh said she didn’t think the location was “appropriate” for a dog beach because it might detract from work the city has done to revitalize and clean up downtown.
She said she was worried mess from dogs in such a central location will "create a conflict.”
Coun. Charlie Hodge saw the location as a benefit, saying tourists visiting with their dogs would have an easy place to cool them off..
Council was also divided on the Lake Avenue park, with Couns. Maxine DeHart, Luke Stack and Gail Given opposed.
Residents near the proposed location were largely opposed to the project, with more than 75 per cent of survey respondents expressing “strong” opposition.
Concerns included decreasing property values, cleanliness and a lack of parking.
Throughout the debate, several councillors pointed out that only approving some of the parks would lead to crowding at the ones that get built, and that it was important to ensure dog park locations were sufficiently spread out through the city.
“It goes without saying we’re not going to make everyone happy,” Hodge, who’s been pushing for more dog parks in Kelowna for years, said. “Everyone wants to walk their dog, but nobody wants it in their backyard.”
Now that it's approved three of Parlane's plans, council will still have to give final word on what gets built during its 2017 budget deliberations.