Edmonton dog parks to allow off-leash pets again as city moves toward relaunch
Published Friday, May 1, 2020 12:52PM MDT Last Updated Friday, May 1, 2020 3:28PM MDT
EDMONTON -- Off-leash pets will once again be permitted in designated Edmonton dog parks, the city announced Friday in an update on how it will approach the province's economic relaunch strategy.
On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney revealed the phased approach to relaunching the economy, beginning with reopening provincial parks and resuming some elective surgeries.
If Alberta's case totals, hospitalizations and ICU admissions continue to be below modelled projections, Alberta will then move to reopen some retail stores, restaurants and pubs as early as May 14.
But there were still questions about how cities might integrate the strategy, which does not address city-level decisions like expanding transit operations or reopening dog parks and playgrounds.
"As of sunrise tomorrow, dogs can off-leash at all 38 dog parks," Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin said in a news conference.
"The city has heard loud and clear that Edmontonians miss their usual practice in the dog parks."
On-leash requirements had previously introduced at the unfenced parks so owners could maintain physical distancing.
"Compliance has not been a significant issue so we're pleased to let most off-leash parks serve their intended purpose," Laughlin said.
The city's four fenced dog parks will remain closed for now, and Laughlin said their reopening date will depend on how things go at the unfenced parks.
Laughlin said the city is looking at an opening plan for its municipal golf courses, which it would update council on next week.
City officials are also in touch with provincial counterparts to determine which local outdoor activities will be included in stage 1 of the relaunch plan, estimated to be as early as May 14.
Mayor Don Iveson said the city's approach to relaunch will be the same as the province's, in that authorities will constantly monitor health outcomes to determine whether to scale back or relax measures.
"We expect there to be starts and tops and short of a vaccine, of course, there really is no magic button we can hit to turn everything back on immediately," he said.
Iveson also sounded a warning about the city's dire economic position.
"Existing fiscal tools are not sufficient to backfill operating shortfalls, especially for essential services like transit," he said. "We continue to struggle in this area so as we slowly relaunch we will be keeping a close eye on the effect on transit in particular."
Iveson said he's eager to partner with federal and provincial governments to create "transformational change" for municipalities coming out of the pandemic, like new revenue streams "that will actually grow with economic recovery."
The city's local state of emergency, first declared March 20, was extended by a week Thursday to May 7 and has not been affected by the relaunch strategy.
The city's emergency committee will meet again on May 7.