Proposal to allow pets on leashes in a Saskatoon park passes first hurdle

For nearly 40 years pets have been prohibited in one of Saskatoon’s most popular parks, Kiwanis Memorial. And now, a proposal to allow pets on leashes in the downtown greenspace has cleared its first hurdle.

On Tuesday the city’s standing policy committee on planning, development and community services unanimously supported the administration’s recommendation to change the Animal Control Bylaw, to allow pets in Kiwanis Memorial Park.

A recommendation Ward 6 City Councillor Cynthia Block says was long overdue.

“It’s been something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I was elected,” Coun. Block told CTV News. “I’ve heard from residents particularly in the downtown but elsewhere, about the need to open up this park so that people can bring their dogs into the park, on leash of course.”

During the committee meeting Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill said a reason pets remained prohibited in Kiwanis Memorial is because lawmakers believed long leashes and flexi-cord leashes would impede movement within the park.

In 2019, Brent Penner, executive director of Downtown Saskatoon brought this idea forward to administration, as a way to allow pet owners and their pets to enjoy the park, and to move freely through downtown parks without worrying about breaking a bylaw.

“This allows someone to go for a walk with their dog downtown without having to worry about breaking a bylaw,” Penner said. “It was a common sense decision made by the committee today.”

Since 1982, Kiwanis Memorial Park has been designated as a pet-free city park. In 2010, city council removed a pet-prohibition on Rotary and Friendship Parks, but not Kiwanis Memorial. The committee heard pets will still be prohibited from Kinsmen Park.

Lynne Lacroix, general manager of community services for the City of Saskatoon, said special events hosted in Kiwanis Memorial, where there are areas fenced off, will remain off limits for dogs and pets, unless the event organizer allows pets within the fenced area.

CTV News spoke to individuals on the Meewasin Trail through Kiwanis Memorial, and many stated they didn’t know pets weren’t allowed in the park, and many agreed it would be a welcome change.

According to the administration’s report on public feedback for this proposed change, 72 per cent of the 2,244 surveys strongly supported on-leash pets in Kiwanis Memorial. 13 per cent of responses strongly did not support the change, while four per cent did not support the change.

Coun. Block says this move will open up the downtown park and give people more freedom to move around with their pets.

“We really need to give this opportunity for residents in the downtown and beyond, an opportunity to be here with their pets.”

The city’s administration is budgeting $2,500 to install a new garbage receptacle and $500 to remove the "no dogs" signage and replace it with ‘be responsible’ signs.

If approved by city council at the end of the month Coun. Block said the bylaw change could come into effect as early as November.