June 19th, 2024

Dog park set to shrink

By Gillian Slade on July 24, 2018.

NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE
The city is working on plans to restrict the off-leash area at the Saamis Archaeological Site in an effort to preserve and protect the site.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

Significant changes to the off-leash area at the Saamis archaeological site are being planned to preserve and protect it, says the city.

“We’ve been concerned about the degradation of the site for a number of years now,” said Randy Taves, manager of parks for the city.

The site was designated a provincial historic resource in 1984 as a significant First Nation camp containing cultural material from six inches to four feet below the surface, said Taves. There has been some damage in the past 50 years and the plan is to prevent further damage and preserve the surface.

The site and trails can be accessed from the teepee area or via the tunnel under the Trans-Canada Highway from Kin Coulee Park. Currently, dogs are allowed to roam freely throughout the area while off leash, but that will change.

The city’s short-term plans include fencing off a four-acre section of the site where dogs will be allowed to be off leash. Another smaller fenced area will give dogs access to Seven Persons Creek where they like to play in the water, said Taves.

The city has applied for the necessary provincial permits and work could begin as early as this fall or next year.

Once the specific off-leash areas have been built, and pedestrian and animal traffic is limited to the trails, work will commence on repairing damaged areas. This will include planting native grass species and repairing the shoreline.

Phase one of the changes, which includes fencing, trails, signage, historical resources permit requirements and site restoration is estimated to cost $100,000 and will come from the parks and recreation infrastructure budget.

The South East Alberta Watershed Alliance has a grant to cover the cost of restoring the shoreline.

Dog and human activity in the area has resulted in ground cover being destroyed and silt entering the water stream, said Taves. A healthy shoreline will mean a better eco-system and better water quality.

It will ultimately be a significant change and the city plans to do it in phases, said Taves.

“We realize the popularity of the site. Up to 150,000 people a year visit that site,” said Taves.

For Shayla Paxman, who was walking her Great Dane and her Shepherd-cross dogs on Monday afternoon, the idea of a restricted fenced in area is not welcome news.

“I’m pretty annoyed,” said Paxman, who takes her dogs to the site two or three times a week.

The problem with fenced-in off-leash areas is if your dog does not like another dog there, you have to leave, she said.

The plan is to develop in the next year or two some additional off-leash areas in the city. This may include expanding the Saratoga dog park.

“We have an obligation to preserve and protect this site (Saamis) under the historical resources act,” said Taves. “This whole site has been damaged over time and will take time to recover.”

Ultimately it will mean requiring that people stay on designated trails and dogs on a leash, said Taves.

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