By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Town of Taber administration has developed a project outline to complete the planning, implementation, and maintenance of upgrades to the Taber Dog Park.
On Jan. 8, council reviewed the options provided, which were based on the feedback from user surveys at the dog park. Over the course of a month the survey tallied that 431 dogs visited the park. The surveys were independently collected by interested citizens.
The proposed projects included: grading and leveling of the grounds, hydroseeding, installing irrigation, improving the pathway, and fencing improvements. The objectives upon completion are to remove any trip hazards and improve drainage by grading, beautifying the park, planting grass, and improving lawn growth with irrigation. Additionally, the proposal requests a paved asphalt pathway, and surrounding the entire area with a chain link fence.
The estimated completion cost for the projects is:
-Grading & leveling: south fenced area $6,437.50, north fenced area $32,187.50
-Hydroseeding: south fenced area $2,502.50, north fenced area $12,512.50
-Installing irrigation: south fenced area $13,125, north fenced area $65,625
-Improving pathway with asphalt paving: $97,500
-Chain link fencing: $46,260
The following cost increases would impact regular maintenance:
-$30,000/year if grading and hydroseeding is only chosen
-$45,000/year if all projects are completed; grading, hydroseeding, and full irrigation
Prior to the meeting, none of the projects had funding currently available through either the Town’s capital or operating budgets.
CAO Derrin Thibault told council that previous efforts to start a dog park society didn’t generate any interest. Recreation manager Brian Martin said his department has made efforts to improve the area inexpensively, and gave the example of repurposing gravel from another site to use at the park. He said that based on the municipality surveys, the Town’s level of service to its own dog park was in mostly line with others.
Mayor Prokop said, “It’s hard to please everybody no matter what you do or don’t do. Granted there are a lot of users there,” he said. The mayor invited rec users to come up with a solution, and asked an open-ended question: “What’s practical?” Council received the report for information and tabled it for the time being.
Over time, the recreation department has funded smaller upgrades using money from the operations budget. Lighting, garbage receptacles, gravel in and around shelters, and picnic tables were added. Irrigation water supply was installed in 2023 and potable water is available at the park. The report included a survey of 13 southern Alberta municipalities of similar size to Taber and found that a majority of those who responded to the survey indicated that their dog parks were of low priority.
“The survey found that most mow occasionally, collect the garbage, and refill the dog waste bag dispensers regularly. One municipality indicated that community groups have taken on the responsibility of all maintenance except the periodic mowing. Coaldale is most likely the exception, as they have built their dog park on a decommissioned sports field to the east of town. This area had sport playable groomed and irrigated lawn as it used to be a soccer field,” the report said.