Councillor Moslin proposes a change for the location of a dog park in Grand Forks city park

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
March 29th, 2010

A full gallery came out to lend their perspectives on the proposed change of location for a dog park in Grand Forks at the last city council meeting. Almost one year ago city council approved an enclosed dog park area in downtown’s city park. Since that time, a formal society has formed, the Grand Forks Dog Park Society, and they have been actively fundraising to cover the costs associated with the infrastructure needed to create the park. The questions before council at the meeting on Mar. 22 were to provide support for a proposal from the Society to the Phoenix Foundation, and a request to change the location of the park.

Presentations from the gallery during the primary meeting showed support for the park overall, but a couple of oversights were brought up. A representative of the BMX Society said that they were never consulted prior to the approval of the dog park’s current approved location at the north end of the BMX track. Ben Churchill spoke on behalf of the club suggesting two other potential sites that the club would prefer.

“This could degenerate into a kids versus dogs issue really quickly,” said Churchill. “We don’t want that. The BMX track is not opposed to a dog park. It was my understanding that no one contacted anyone in the BMX club until last Wednesday about the placement of this dog park. WE feel like we got left out on the decision making. We’d like to be brought to the table as far as the decision where it goes.”

Kathy Novokshonoff, a local dog trainer, spoke to the benefits of having a dog park for both dogs and owners. As a representative of the Society, however, she agrees that the location of the park should be changed.

“The current area near the BMX track is in somebody’s backyard. That would be a concern for me if it was my backyard, and I love dogs. Although we will have rules, there’s a lot more people in their backyard all of a sudden,” said Novokshonoff. “My preference is close to the river – it has better shade, and it’s not as close to people.”

After the delegations left, the topic of the dog park was raised during the regular council meeting during Councillor Chris Moslin’s report. Moslin’s first motion was to give the dog park a letter of support for the Society’s application to the Phoenix Foundation for funding. The motion was carried, although Councillor Joy Davies was recorded in opposition. Davies raised concerns that the application stated that the city would be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the park. She was not comfortable that they had approved a budget for the increased workload on the city works staff.

Moslin placed a second motion forward that the suggested new dog park location on the south side of the park near the water and along the existing trail be evaluated as part of a staff report to be prepared with input from affected parties including the BMX club, the Senior’s Hall, and residents. After some discussion about the location (see video) and the appropriate process to follow as the dog park location was approved last year, council approved the motion with Councillors Christine Thompson and Gene Robert recording opposing votes.

Categories: Politics