By Greg Price
A local resident has made a plea to the Taber Recreation Board to see if improvement could be made to the Taber Dog Park that is near the Taber Trout Pond.
Danelle Ulrick and a group of her fellow dog lovers have already reached out to the town mayor and CAO, and also spoke with the recreation director, Ulrick was asked to make a presentation to the recreation board.
“A couple of years ago, the Town of Taber generously designated a portion of land west of Highway 864 for use as an off-leash dog park. Currently, the park consists of one large fenced area with a gravel walking path around it along with a few garbage receptacles and a couple of benches, some make-shift agility equipment and one or two poop-bag dispensers,” said Ulrick. “In visiting other dog parks around southern Alberta, we’ve realized that our dog park is sorely lacking in some essential features.”
Ulrick noted lacking features such as a sufficient fresh water source, shelter, lighting, adequate seating, separate play areas, leveled grass areas, paved walkways and parking lots, more signage and garbage receptacles.
“The Trout Pond just down the road is becoming a beautiful area and with the future proposed camping area and extension of 56th Avenue out to Highway 864, we believe this is a missed or forgotten opportunity to add another draw to the Taber area,” said Ulrick. “Therefore, we are simply asking for your assistance, financially or otherwise, to help us develop this area into what it can potentially become. We have ideas, we have initiative, we just need your assistance.”
Ulrick showed pictures to the recreation board of what the current dog park looks like, followed up by pictures of extras dog owners she has talked to would like to see.
“The biggest concern right now is a fresh water source. We did talk to someone who frequents the dog park and he has a 1,000-litre tank that you would haul for water for a farm that he would donate,” said Ulrick. “He talked to the mayor about it and Mayor Prokop said sure, if he’s willing to donate it, we would look to build a stand for it.”
For shelter, Ulrick saw one in Medicine Hat that has solar lighting on it. She phoned UFA to look at what costs would be for a similar shelter.
“It was on sale at the time and he did say he’d give us the sale price if the sale isn’t on anymore,” said Ulrick. “I also talked to UFA about chain-link fence. That dog park is a huge area and I don’t expect to go in and fix it all up. I think phases.”
The initial phase Ulrick would like to see focused on first is the area right beside the Trout Pond road. It would involve running chain-link fence from the double entry gate where the dogs are taken in, running the fence from the gate to across the west, boxing off the southern portion of the dog park.
“From there that would be our baby Phase 1. Having that area blocked off, it would be wonderful to get the dog shelter put out there, the chain-link fence, more trees, level it out and a nice bigger sign by the highway,” said Ulrick. “I’ve heard people say ‘I didn’t even know it was here’ even though there is a small sign out there. The fence is starting to deteriorate out there and I have a Great Pyrenees and that fence, he could clear it — it’s a four-foot fence. He’s not a flight risk thank God, but if he was, that fence wouldn’t hold him in there.”
Inquires were made of how long water would stay fresh out at the dog park if the 1,000-litre tank were utilized. Right now, people are taking milk jugs full of water and dumping it into a bowl.
“I personally and a few other people I’ve talked to who use the dog park won’t let their dogs drink out of that (the bowl) because they don’t know if it’s contaminated or not,” said Ulrick.
M.D. of Taber councillor and recreation board member John Turcato echoed Ulrick’s sentiment, saying that same problem would likely occur with the 1,000-litre tank.
“A problem with a clear tank is algae growth. It doesn’t take long — three or four days. If it’s an algae-resistant tank, that changes things as well,” said Turcato.
Recreation board member Darcy Firth inquired who would be responsible for filling the tank and it would have to be made so that it was a tamper-proof tank in the interest for the safety of the dogs.
“I wouldn’t let my dog drink from that if it wasn’t locked up,” said Firth. “When I was talking to Mayor Prokop, he was saying that the town comes out to water the tress anyhow and they would put some water in the tank when they were there,” replied Ulrick, not knowing how tamper-proof the tank is at the moment of the inquiry.
The chain-link fence would help separate aggressive, less socialized dogs from the more friendly ones in exercising the animals in which Ulrick hopes if any improvement were to be made to the dog park, that would be at the top of the list.
“If we could get two separate areas right away, that would be a fantastic want. Less aggressive dogs could go on one side and the other dogs could go on the other,” said Ulrick. “The fence, shelter, water that would probably be the top-three ranked priorities.”
Town councillor and recreation board member Garth Bekkering wondered why a shelter is needed at a dog park, where if the weather is poor, one would likely not be taking their dog out for a walk anyway.
“You are out there in the sunshine, you are out there in the winter. When you are a dog owner, they are your babies when you take them out. If it weren’t for my dog, I’d be a couch potato,” said Ulrick, adding UFA quoted a shelter at $1,600 with delivery being free, and chain-link fence was around $3,000 (170 feet). “For under probably $5,000, you could put those two items out there.”
Taber Recreation Board accepted the presentation and directed administration to bring it back to the board’s June meeting to explore cost ratios.