Dog owners would rather use Whitecap Park’s new master plan to pick up after their pets than see it become a reality.
The new design includes an 80-acre fenced dog park, a section of the Meewasin Trail and a human-only cultural and historical area. The off-leash area will be built in two equal size phases.
Right now, dog owners use the entire park – which is nearly double the size of the planned off-leash area – and are angry the new design will shrink their free space and ban off-leash swimming in the river.
Michael Tyrrell and Louis Hawkins have walked generations of their dogs through Whitecap.
“Taking the riverfront and trees away from the people that are here all the time really is a shame, and to put us in a cage in the middle seems inhumane and unfair to dogs,” Hawkins said, adding winters will also be cold without tree-cover..
“I think it will be a disaster so I strongly oppose it,” Tyrell said. “I think it’s a waste of the city’s money and I’d like them to rethink it.”
The riverbank was excluded from the plans because the land is not owned by the city.
Dog walker Lynsay Haanstra had several four-legged friends down by the river during the hot Saturday. She said owners come from all over to take advantage of the beach.
“I kind of rely on a place to take the dogs to.. so it kind of limits what I do,” she said. “Leave it the way it is. It’s perfect.”
She fears if the beach is taken away, dog owners will stop using the park and closer parks will become more crowded.
The initial design was approved in 2010 but changes have since been made, including an extra parking lot and moving the Meewasin Trail from the east-side of the park to the top of the riverbank.
By law enforcement duties have also been changed from the RM of Corman Park to the City of Saskatoon’s Animal Control Agency.
The first phase of the remodeled park is slated to open in 2016 pending the approval of the changes by city council and Corman Park and capital funding.