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Pop-up dog parks coming to Edmonton this spring

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The City of Edmonton is looking to better use the city's green spaces by making more parks pet-friendly.

City council has approved a pilot project to test "pop-up" dog parks across Edmonton this spring.

"As we densify and more and more people [have] apartments or denser living, people are looking for these sorts of spaces, so dog parks are becoming a 'must have'," said Michael Janz, Ward Papastew councillor.

As the city's human and canine populations grow, the pilot is being touted as a low-cost way to build community and accommodate people and their pets in public places.

The city currently has more than 50 off-leash dog areas and access to new parks will be expanded through the existing Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy.

Costing between $150,000 and $300,000, the project will include up to 30 neighbourhoodswith the goal being a dog park within a 15-minute walk of all residents.

Having the sites pop up temporarily will allow the city to get public feedback before putting in permanent infrastructure.

"We'll try it out, if it works, the community likes it, the neighbours like it, we can make it permanent," Janz said. "If it is in the wrong place or maybe there's an issue, then that's something we can look at another time."

In Braithwaite Park, in south Edmonton, dog owners have already been making use of a new fenced-in off-leash area that opened in the summer.

"It’s a very popular area, it’s a great example of how we can take an underutilized green space and turn it into something wonderful for the whole community," Janz said.

"It’s really been like how I’ve gotten to know a lot of my neighbours," said Andrew Koller. "It’s like, the best way to meet them has honestly been through my dog."

Another temporary off-leash space is open in Oliver, and resident Fernanda Balla brings her puppy Mel to the park twice a day.

She said it's an important space for pet owners downtown because so many people live in apartments.

"It's really good for her," Balla said. "If you just go to walk with her she has a lot of energy and here is really good because she plays with other dogs."

Another downtown dog owner, Jesse Semper, said the new fenced-off area is convenient and builds community between dog owners.

"Tons of people in the community actually get together, meet each other, that kind of thing," he said, adding that more parks in the city would benefit from having bigger, closer off-leash spaces.

"Terwillegar is really nice," Semper said. "But this is really convenient for people who are coming home after work or just busy. I don't have to fight traffic or drive."

More information on off-leash areas can be found on the City of Edmonton's website.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson 

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