King’s Park Off-Leash Dog Area

If the water in your local off-leash park pond looks iffy, the city is putting the onus on you to keep your dog safe.

Winnipeg conducts random water quality testing of municipal retention ponds, but doesn’t test marshy ponds such as the one at King’s Park, says spokeswoman Lisa Fraser.

“As these ponds are not intended for drinking or recreational use, water from the ponds should not be used for any purpose,” she adds, noting warning signs are placed around park ponds.

Only one of King’s Park’s three water warning signs is located in the off-leash area, and it seems targeted at people, cautioning them against dumping and recreational activities like swimming, wading, and boating. Another, located too far from the path to read and adjacent to a desiccated area of the pond, warns against using the water for irrigating and drinking.

Although the geography suggests otherwise, the city’s position is King’s Park’s pond isn’t part of its off-leash area.

Nevertheless, the city is considering providing the pond fresh water from a well source. During park upgrade consultations, deputy mayor Janice Lukes said residents identified pumping water into the pond as their top priority, and she’s pursuing that goal.

What appears to be an abundance of algae on the pond surface is actually submersed vascular plants, says University of Manitoba biologist Gordon Goldsborough. Based on a half-dozen photographs he examined early this month, he saw no evidence of abundant green algae, and none of the potentially harmful blue-green algae.

“Abundance of submersed plants such as this is usually a sign of reasonable healthy conditions,” Goldsborough says.

The fact a turtle family resides in the pond is another indication of a healthy ecosystem, says Donna Henry, formerly of Parks Canada.

All the same, pet insurer Petsecure recommends owners bring water and a bowl to hydrate their pets as needed.

King’s Park is one of many Winnipeg parks with off-leash areas, but no dog owner group.

“I recommend that dog owners in every off-leash area organize a group that is there to advocate on their behalf, to assume a stewardship role in caring for the park and to promote responsible pet ownership,” says Henry, president of the Winnipeg Network of Dog Owner Groups.

Winnipeg Free Press, Richard Kamchen,  August 25, 2015

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