MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Kin Coulee Park used to be a favourite spot for local dog owners to let their pups run freely, but Wednesday marks four months since that space was deemed on-leash only.
City Bylaw says while they haven’t had an issue with dog owners breaking the rules at Kin Coulee, they have in other parts of the city.
“We’ve noticed that there’s been an increase in dogs off-leash in other areas,” says Darren Bender, community peace officer.
Last year, the Kin Coulee dog park was identified as an archaeological site, and it was decided that dogs were damaging the landscape.
The province directed the city to protect the site, as it’s one of the largest First Nation camps in southeastern Alberta, and has a large amount of cultural material just below the dirt surface.
According to Bender, since the on-leash only policy came into effect on January 1st, he barely sees people or dogs in the area anymore.
“It’s been pretty quiet in that area that used to be off leash, you don’t really see that many vehicles there anymore,” says Bender. “When I’ve gone through, not many people over there at all, you see the odd person with a dog but for the most part they’re on leash.”
However, he says there’s been an increase in dogs running off-leash in other areas of the city.
“Even in the manicured part of Kin Coulee, the park side, we’ve caught people with their dogs off leash,” says Bender. “In Strathcona, quite a few people have their dog off leash there where they’re not supposed to be. Strathcona isn’t an off leash park at all. Aside from that the green strips behind houses and other smaller city parks, we’re noticing an increase in off-leash dogs there too.”
He says travelling to a different dog park might just be inconvenient for some dog owners.
“I don’t know if it’s just cause it’s not as convenient now with that off-leash area being an on-leash area now, that they’re just kind of ignoring the rules now.”
There are off-leash areas of the city for owners to let their dogs run free.
“In behind Strathcona there’s a part in between Strathcona and Scholten Hill, that’s all off-leash in there,” says Bender. “That path continues basically in behind Saratoga dog park all the way to the old Ogilvie mills right up until Kin Coulee, that’s all an off-leash area.”
The fine for having a dog running off-leash in an on-leash area is $150.
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