Tension in Kelowna over plans to redevelop popular dog park

Some pet owners in Kelowna are determined to try and keep what they consider the best dog park in the city while the city has plans to redevelop the site.

Last fall, the City of Kelowna approved a master plan for a five-hectare property on the corner of Harvey Avenue and Richter Street, which was sitting vacant for 15 years.

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The new development, near the dog park, is called Central Green and will be a mixed density neighbourhood, which has some residents worried about what that’ll mean for their beloved dog park.

“I’m going to cry if we lose this,” said resident George Wajsen.

The park is meant for small dogs to run free without a leash. It also has many shady spots thanks to a nearby heritage tree, making it more comfortable on hot Okanagan summer days.

A dog  named Lucy plays in Kelowna’s Rowcliffe Park on Sunday morning.

Neetu Garcha/Global News

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    Rowcliffe Park has also been a place for dog lovers to bond for several years.

    “Being new to Kelowna, it’s how I met a lot of people in the area and so it’s social for me as well as for my dog,” said another resident, Patti, who preferred not to disclose her last name.

    “Once it’s gone, I’m going to have problems because I live close by and I don’t really have a yard. This is the only place I can bring my dog to run.”

    Development company Mission Group Homes is partnering with Al Stober Construction to build Central Green.

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    But it’s the City of Kelowna that’s developing the Rowcliffe Park area and it said the park will definitely see big changes.

    There will be a dog run included in the development but much of the space will be opened up for all of the public to use, according to Communications Supervisor at the city, Tom Wilson.

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    Even though the plans are well underway, residents like Wajsen are still hopeful that the city will throw them a bone.

    “I’m going to fight for it, I’m going to [do] whatever it takes,” Wajsen said.

    For the past few months the city has been collecting public input on whether to change its bylaws at a half dozen Kelowna parks where dogs are currently prohibited from.

    WATCH BELOW: Leashed dogs in more Kelowna parks? City seeking input

    The bylaw changes, if approved, would mean as soon as this fall, leashed dogs may be allowed in some city parks.

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