What would make Winnipeg truly world-class? A doggie water park, perhaps. (Winnipeg Sun photo illustration)
Turns out splash pads aren't just for kids.
Winnipeg could offer the cooling feature to dogs as well, if a dog park renovation proposal earns approval.
The Kilcona Dog Park Club hopes to fundraise and secure provincial and city grants for a doggy splash pad, doggy wash/shower station, drinking water fountain and more at their namesake park.
The splash pad for four-legged friends would be the first of its kind in Canada, said Donna Henry, president of the club.
"Winnipeg is quite a bit behind in developing off-leash areas," said Henry, noting many such splash pads are operating in the United States.
Much of the project's costs have yet to be determined, though a splash pad kit is expected to cost $50,000 before installation and a water fountain addition would cost at least cost $25,000 to connect the supply and add fixtures. User fees, which in other cities average about $30 per owner per year, are pitched to offset the operating costs of the splash pad.
The club stresses improving the city's largest dog park is worthwhile, since Winnipeg's number of household canines is about 110,000, just shy of its 124,000 children under age 14. Meanwhile, the city offers kids 4,000 hectares of parkland but just 100 hectares are devoted to off-leash dog areas, said Henry.
"Dog owners are absolutely the biggest users of Kilcona Park," said Henry. "We're there all the time."
The proposal is slated for discussion at the city's East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee meeting on Tuesday.
It also pitches adding potable drinking water to prevent dogs from drinking pond water that the club says contains E. coli.
The club estimates Canadians spend $6.5 billion on their dogs each year, while American owners spend 10 times that amount, making a revamped park a great potential tourist attraction.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), a member of the community committee, said he believes parks are a core city service worthy of consideration, even if the city must pay for part of the project.
"There are thousands and thousands of dogs in our city and we do invest in recreation," said Browaty. "Putting a certain amount of investment in dog parks is a good investment."
Browaty said he's not sure a doggy spray pad would be among the elements worthy of city cash but he's open to discussing it, especially if the request is limited to operating costs.
The proposal is currently in the early stages, with several planning documents and city approvals still required.