Why is an off-leash area being proposed for the Sturgeon Athletic Field?

    Council approved $1.4 million for parks and recreation amenities in the St. James area in the 2020 Capital Budget. The City asked residents in the Lakewood, Crestview, Heritage Park, Buchanan, and Sturgeon Creek neighbourhoods for input on desired parks and recreation improvements. Five projects were selected as a result of the public engagement process, including the Sturgeon Athletic Field Off-Leash Area – development of which must follow the Council-approved Off-Leash Area Master Plan (OLAMP) process.

    What is the Off-Leash Area Master Plan process?

    This master plan includes policies and standards that will be used by the public service to site, design, and manage future OLAs and to enhance existing OLAs. These policies and standards also provide direction for how to meet local demand for OLAs in a logical and sustainable manner, in alignment with OurWinnipeg, Complete Communities, the Regional Parks Investment Strategy, and the Recreation and Parks Strategies. 

    Part of the OLAMP process is to engage stakeholders and the community to determine values, needs, and wants for a given area, and to combine this insight with observations gathered through site visits and user counts and best practices implemented by a variety of municipalities from across North America.

    What will the new OLA include?

    Located north-west of the intersection of Sturgeon Road and Silver Avenue, the proposed design features:

    • Fencing around the perimeter, including partitioned areas for large and small dogs
    • Picnic tables, benches, and shade trees
    • Community message board
    • In-ground self-closing waste container
    • Expanded on-site parking and fenced walkway from the parking lot to the off-leash area

    Why is a new off-leash area required? What is wrong with the existing off-leash area on the east side of Sturgeon Road?

    The existing off-leash area was always intended to be a temporary solution as the St. James Community Parks and Recreation Project process went through its due course. The current area does not meet community needs due to its lack of parking, fencing, and other amenities. 

    We are aware that dog owners currently let their dogs off-leash in the Sturgeon and Silver Athletic Parks – a behavior that must be redirected to appropriate, designated spaces for both public and pet safety, for the integrity of the fields and usability for sport organizations, and to facilitate preservation of prairie grass habitats and oak-aspen forest. 

    How can an off-leash dog area fit in a park largely programmed for soccer?

    The proposed off-leash area is located on the eastern edge of the site, on an old residential lot that has an existing perimeter of trees and a berm separating it from the soccer pitches. 

    The parking lot would be doubled in size to accommodate an increase in traffic, and a fence would separate the dog park access from the soccer pitches. The entire off-leash area would have fencing in five-foot to ten-foot height sections to prevent soccer balls from entering the dog area, and to keep dogs from the soccer area.

    Has the City talked to the soccer community about the off-leash dog area plan?

    Yes, the City has reviewed design concepts with St. Charles Soccer Club, and made changes to the design based on their feedback.

    Is there money to build the off-leash dog area?

    Yes, funding for the project was allocated from the 2020 Capital Budget as part of the St. James Recreation and Parks Improvement project.