City still eyes Muriel Baxter field for off-leash dog park
By Ian Cobb/e-KNOW
The City of Cranbrook intends to keep working with School District No. 5 (SD5) to secure the old Muriel Baxter Elementary School lot for an off-leash dog park.
City council Jan. 19 voted to continue to pursue an agreement between the City of Cranbrook and the SD5, to utilize the vacant school ground as an off leash dog use area, which will be maintained by the city.
The decision followed a detailed discussion.
Coun. Wes Graham initially made a motion to refer the matter to current budget discussions and later suggested council should not pursue an off leash dog use area, with the addendum “at this time.”
Graham noted the off-leash dog park was an initiative of the previous council and he would like more time to research the idea.
“We do have lots of areas where you can run your dog” in the meantime, he said.
Chief administrative officer Wayne Staudt said the matter is in the city’s “carry forward schedule” showing $20,000 being set aside for it in 2014; with two options for an off-leash dog park, one as part of Moir Park or one in the former Muriel Baxter school field
The city had not received confirmation from SD5 before about the school field but now, Staudt told council, they are “willing to work with us.”
The sooner the city takes steps toward one of the options the better, he added.
Coun. Ron Popoff queried if it was “critical” that discussions took place right away. If not, a delay “allows the cart to be put behind the horse instead of in front of it.”
“We’ve got to start to work in this direction” in order to educate area residents about the plans, Staudt said. “We’ve been pursuing it for quite a while with the school district” and this is the first time there has been “positive feedback.”
Coun. Norma Blissett stated she believes the school field is “a great location. It is central and already partially fenced and it provided recreational opportunity for a segment of our population” while not being an expensive project to undertake.
Mayor Lee Pratt said he perceived Graham’s motion as an “end of story. We should continue to pursue an agreement with the school district. We’re not locking ourselves into anything.”
Staudt then informed council that city staff could not continue discussions with another level of government “without the authorization of council.”
Council voted five to one to defeat Graham motion’s to delay a decision and then voted unanimously to accept the suggested motion by staff to continue to pursue an agreement between the City of Cranbrook and SD5.
Located on 3rd Street South, Muriel Baxter Elementary School closed in 2002 due to declining enrolment and the building was destroyed by fire when it was being demolished in December 2008.