I am responding to Valerie Thiessen’s letter in support of the new Williams Lake dog park.
I am glad to see that a small group of individuals got together to work on establishing a dog park. Groups such as this play a key role in developing good projects in our community. I applaud the people on the Dog Park Committee for letting city council know that they want a dog park. However, the planning and implementation of such a project is critical to ensuring that the project is well used and enjoyed by the community.
Ms. Thiessen is right that there are various groups utilizing city parks and financial resources. This is precisely the reason that council, city staff and volunteers spend significant amounts of time developing community plans and park use plans. The Boitanio dog park that has been built is outside of these plans and was not identified as a priority for the very limited parks and recreation funding that the city has available.
Given the realities of our city’s budgets, is it not in our best interest to ensure that every dime spent on any project is backed by a well thought out plan? Coun. Laurie Walters could not produce any research to back the dog park design that was built, and the design and location of the dog park was not even reviewed by our city planner. Were safety concerns considered in the design and location of the dog park, and if yes what has been put in place to mitigate these concerns?
While it is admirable that the Dog Park Committee is fundraising to further develop the dog park, I find it unusual that the city put up the fencing in advance of seeing any fundraised money. I have a dog and enjoy seeing people and their dogs around town and in the parks of our city, but I want to see my tax dollars used on well-planned projects.
I’m still looking for an explanation from Coun. Walters, who has championed the dog park, as to why this project was deemed a priority despite three City of Williams Lake council reports suggesting otherwise, as well as, why it was built so quickly without thorough planning. Other taxpayers may also want to ask Coun. Walters this same question considering that she has stated that she is already thinking about developing another dog park.