If my understanding is correct (and someone will surely tell me if it isn’t) the dog park came about because some people wanted it.
Coun. Laurie Walters took up the cause, an ad hoc committee found a spot for it, the city found money for it, and ta da, we have a dog park.
Once upon a time when groups wanted something (ball park, whatever) they raised money first, then approached council, either directly or through advisory committees. Remember advisory committees? They were standing committees, composed of citizens from different walks of life appointed by council to consider issues like health, sustainability, downtown parking, etc. The members would discuss the pros and cons of proposals, then make recommendations to council.
It could be a slow process, but committee members generally reflected public opinion.
The city now has a number of ad hoc committees but only three standing advisory committees: heritage (new), accessibility, and water. When councillors dumped the long-standing Advisory Planning Committee for lack of attendance, some of us wondered if that was an excuse for council to move forward faster by “streamlining” the planning process, copying the senior governments.
In its early days the Cook council put a lot of effort into getting public input into planning the city’s future. However, if I understand Coun. Walters correctly, things deemed a priority then don’t necessarily take priority now. Smaller projects (i.e. dog park) will move the community forward and have been identified as being a good thing. It would seem all you need now to get something going is a councillor to champion your cause. I wonder which one of them will move the community forward by seeing that city staff, not volunteers, scoop the bird poop from the Scout Island beach to make that facility a good thing for the community.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.