MEDICINE HAT, AB - For dog owners in Medicine Hat, the pending loss of the Kin Coulee off-leash dog park has been a challenge to say the least.
Many Hatters have been left wondering what's next, after concerns were raised regarding the impact that dogs are having on the historic site.
One local man is spearheading an initiative to find a new home for the city's displaced dogs.
Ryan Mitchell says the announcement was a bomb dropped on pet owners across the city and he feels it's his duty to find an alternative.
"City council is looking for another area and we just want our input," said Mitchell. "You know? I think we should have a voice and let 'em know what we're interested in and what we have found as this area."
Mitchell is leading the charge to have an off-leash area in Strathcona Park developed further as a replacement.
He's hoping to see upgrades such as improved water access, fencing and benches for dog owners.
These are things local dog owner Sandie Sparrow thinks would be a great fit.
"I know Ryan quite well and I know that he's been working hard at it and he's taken us down a couple of times and we've all had a look at it," said Sparrow. "That looks like an excellent alternative, providing that we can some fencing, I think it'll be great."
However, the space isn't without its challenges.
"The area butts up against industrial avenue and so we have to secure the area to keep the dogs in and off the road." explained Mitchell.
City Council is keeping a watchful eye on this situation.
Councillor Kris Samraj laced up his boots to see if the Strathcona area could be further developed to fill the void of the Kin Coulee site.
"You know with this site or any other site, there's a lot of work that has to be done before we decide on anything to make sure that this is an appropriate site for an off-leash area." said Samraj.
With re-development would come a cost, something that Mitchell is fine tackling as well.
"Well, it was suggested to me that if we start an official club, we can register as a non-profit. We can apply for grant money and do fundraising to help support the area ourselves." stated Mitchell.
Although Mitchell says this issue has seen a lot of negativity, he wants to shine light on what could be a good replacement for the community.
"My goal is to kind of hopefully guide people in a different direction and make something like this a positive. You know, something to look forward too." finished Mitchell.
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