Beaches going to the dogs

Kelowna could have as many as four new dog beaches by the summer of 2017.

Or, it could have none.

Currently, only the beach at Cedar Creek Park, deep in the south of the city, is available for dogs to take a dip.

Following a statistically valid phone survey and online feedback, several locations were identified as potential dog beaches and off-leash parks.

The survey showed that, while general public opinion is split on the need for another dog park, the majority support another dog beach. The most popular areas for one were downtown, followed by the Mission, North End and North Kelowna.

The four dog beaches being considered include:

  • The “mini” beach near the Sails Plaza, downtown
  • Lake Avenue beach access, adjacent to the mouth of Mill Creek
  • Cedar Avenue beach access
  • Dewdney 1 beach access foreshore and 1844 Dewdney Rd. at McKinley Landing
  • Knox Mountain Park (across Poplar Point Drive, opposite the disc golf course)

Potential off-leash parks include three in the Glenmore area as well as Munson Pond Park.

City staff will now go to those identified neighbourhoods to gauge resident feedback before coming back to council with a final series of recommendations.

It's expected any changes won't take place until 2017, however, planner Barb Davidson said additions could be made this summer if the cost to do so is minimal.

In terms of water parks, council liked the idea of the Lake Avenue beach. Mayor Colin Basran said the area seems to have early buy-in from residents in the area.

The beach is also known as Mushroom Beach. It's believed an increase in activity by dog owners may help to discourage undesirable activity there.

The Sails beach had council wondering about the crowded surroundings.

"I worry about that concentration point. That's the epicentre of our city with tourists, children, vendors, and to potentially put dogs off-leash running around there," said Coun. Luke Stack.

Munson Pond was another concern.

"My concern is the Munson Park suggestion," said Coun. Charlie Hodge, a longtime advocate of more dog parks and beaches. "Even though the dogs would not be allowed in the eco-sensitive area, dogs are going to disturb the wildlife whether they are running or not. Just their presence, barking, the whole thing. It's difficult on wildlife."

Stack also had concerns.

"I know you will consult with the naturalists, but I know they've been waiting for many years. This is a very valuable bird-watching area. But, I also know that dogs running and barking distresses that. I will be interested in their feedback. It wouldn't surprise if that's a conflict."

Since posting "no-dogs" signs at the park, Davidson said she has had numerous requests for an off-leash area there.

"As well, in the online feedback, it was the location that was identified most frequently as an off-leash dog park," she said.

The idea of an off-leash walking trail along the Rail to Trails corridor on Clement Avenue got rave reviews, although Coun. Gail Given wondered about potential conflict with dogs having access to the schoolyard at Bankhead Elementary.

"I am happy to see this (report) come forward, particularly with some options around the downtown, South Pandosy area, where we want to be intensifying the residential component," said Basran. "Having people jump in their car and driving out to the current dog beach is not in keeping with so many of the principles we are trying to develop."


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