BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL – North Perth’s budget discussions went to the dogs at their meeting Wednesday, when a proposed dog park was reviewed by council.
The leash-free dog park was one of many capital projects in the 2013 parks and recreation budget, presented by director Steve Hardie at the meeting on March 6. Hardie said the project was spurred by interest from residents.
“Through our department, we had a number of people express interest in having a leash-free dog park within the municipality,” he said. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to incorporate something into the recreation department that people could use on a come-and-go basis.”
Estimated at costing $15,000, the dog park would consist of a fenced area opposite the Wal-Mart parking lot on the corner of Mitchell Road South and Barnett Street. Mayor Julie Behrns questioned the logic of proposing a dog park on an existing flood plain.
“I’m actually surprised no one has a comment on it, it doesn’t make sense to me,” she said. “This could be a prime piece of real estate some day.”
Coun. Paul Horn also questioned the location, believing it needs to be more central to the community. Hardie said the location was ideal to parks and recreation staff, but it was not the only possible location.
“We looked at a number of different locations throughout the municipality,” he said. “Throughout the process, it kept going back to various components that were readily available at the site we’re looking at.”
CAO Kriss Snell said a more detailed report on the proposed dog park could be prepared, seeing that council was generally in support of the concept. Other capital projects in the 2013 recreation budget include improvements to kitchen facilities at the Elma Memorial Community Centre and the Wallace Community Centre. A new electric oven and a food warming cabinet were both marked as medium priorities for the EMCC, and Hardie said investing money into the hall ensures continued use by rental groups and more revenue.
“We’d like to expand on that and make sure we have the equipment that caterers are asking for and like to use,” Hardie said. “By budgeting a little money each year we can keep that equipment in good shape.”
The kitchen at the Wallace Community Centre was also identified as a facility in need of improvement, with a review of the overall layout this year leading to a renovation next year, Hardie said.
Two projects in this year’s budget with no financial implication to the municipality are the Memorial Park amphitheatre proposed by the Listowel Rotary Club for $75,000, and the Atwood Lions multi-use rink project, budgeted for $125,000.
Hardie said it’s appreciated whenever the municipality can benefit from the generosity of local service groups.
“Anytime that we’re adding another level of service to the department and the municipality is a good thing, especially when service clubs come on board,” Hardie said.
North Perth council’s budget discussions resume on March 20.