First step taken for private off-leash dog park
Foothills: Initial proposal may be revamped at development permit stage
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 06:00 am
The first step has been completed for a privately operated off-leash dog park in the MD of Foothills.
MD Foothills council gave first reading at its Feb. 14 meeting in High River to rezone a portion of a residential property to direct control for a privately run off-leash dog area on two acres of lands southeast of Heritage Pointe.
“They (the dogs) have a fun place to go – to run and to play,” applicant Denise Fernandes told councillors.
“Especially the rescues, a lot of the rescues can’t do the public off-leash parks. People have poured out their hearts and rescued these dogs. They need a place to run their dogs.”
The proposal would see families booking one-hour slots to run their dogs. Site visits are not anticipated to exceed eight per day.
There would be a maximum of six dogs on site at a time, typically with averages of two or three per session. Patrons would enter through an un-manned gate. Payment and reservations would be done on-line.
The MD had received a complaint in October concerning a dog-walking business at the site. As a result Municipal Enforcement issued a warning letter, asking to stop business and apply for the proper permits.
Robin and Denise Fernandes made application for a site-specific amendment for the business on Valentine’s Day. Instead, council opted for direct control zoning.
There were no complaints from neighbours during the Feb. 14 hearing.
However, there are a few more hoops to be jumped through before Fido will be fetching a Frisbee at the Fernandes’ residence.
The applicants requested access to the off-leash park be from 32 Street, rather than 256 Avenue East, which would go near the Fernandes’ home.
Foothills Mayor Larry Spilak said he would be looking at supporting the project, possibly on a short-time leash, if access would go through the Fernandes’ yard rather than from busy 32 Street.
“I do not like the access off of 32nd,” Spilak said. “There are lots of reasons for that — the main one being the safety issue.”
Coun. Delilah Miller said council needs to be direct with the applicants.
“It’s all over the map for me, they are saying one dog and then it is six dogs,” she said. “The lack of security, the lack of control on the property is a concern. No way to monitor who is coming in and out of your property. Maybe it is not a problem now, but I could certainly see it being a problem once people find about it.
“I think we need to have more control and some guidelines.”
Coun. Alan Alger agreed.
“I would be more acceptable to having people come into their (the Fernandes) yard so they know who is there,” Alger said.
“It makes them put skin in the game if the access is on the south side of their house.”
Coun. RD McHugh said he was enthusiastic about the project and agreed it must be in direct control.
“There is a huge demand for this, I am in full support of this,” McHugh said.
Heather Hemingway, MD of Foothills director of planning, said council could look at options if and when the development permit application comes in.
“Let them know that when a development permit is issued it would be on a limited time basis just to test run it,” Hemingway said. “Kind of a test the waters.”
Council could look at having the permit run for one-year. After 12 months the application can be reviewed. Hemingway agreed with Coun. RD McHugh that the venture could be highly successful.
Hemingway said restrictions such as no access from 32 Street, parking and other concerns could be addressed during the development permit process.