A new off-leash dog park has opened in Red Lake, after a long wait and a successful community fundraising campaign.
The municipality held a grand opening of the park, located at the Buffalo Street turnaround, on Tuesday evening. The last piece of sod had been laid down on the fenced park by volunteers on Sunday.
Dayle Cottrell, one of the main organizers behind efforts to build the dog park, called it a satisfying moment after years of work and a couple of false starts.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We’ve been working on getting a dog park up here for four and a half years.”
Finding a location was the hardest part, according to Cottrell, “because the mines own most of the property around Red Lake. So it was kind of challenging to find a space that wasn’t already owned and in use.”
The municipality negotiated an arrangement for use of the land with Evolution Mining, which had been using it for snow and sand storage in winter.
Some uncertainty remains over the park’s long-term future – the arrangement is set to be revisited in three years, and that could be shorter if the company changes ownership, Cottrell said.
“There is a chance within three years, we wouldn’t have a dog park anymore. But we’re hoping it gets a lot of use and people really love it, and they’ll extend it for us.”
She praised volunteers, local businesses, and the community for working together to make the park a reality.
“That’s the main thing,” agreed Agathe Breton-Plouffe, a fellow volunteer and member of the dog park committee. “Everybody came together and they made it happen.”
The Municipality of Red Lake provided the fencing and furniture, while the public was asked to fundraise for the sod.
“Our target was $10,000, we raised $20,000,” said Breton-Plouffe. “Red Lake is a dog-loving town.”
Over 30 volunteers of all ages helped lay down the sod over multiple weekends once the area was prepared, she said.
She’s certain the park will serve as a great place for everyone to gather and meet new people.
But speaking as a member of the francophone community, she’s particularly excited about the possibilities, “because that’s going to be a new place where we can potentially meet new francophones in the area.”
Cottrell said having a dog park will be a huge benefit for many in the community.
“As a dog trainer, I know quite a few people who don’t trust their dogs off-leash. This way, they have a place to go where their dogs can run off-leash safely and their owners don’t have to worry.”
“Another benefit – people who have dogs but have limited mobility,” she added. “Now they’ll have a place where they can take their dogs to run and their dogs can get exercise, have lots of fun, and they can sit on one of the benches.”