Should parks go to the dogs? Or soccer players?
The city is creating a master plan that will guide development of its greenspaces.
“You could build something, but it doesn’t necessarily answer the true demand of an area,” Ray Khalil told The Suburban. The executive committee responsible for public works said “We don’t want to go back and forth spending money left and right. We want to know where we are going.”
Khalil says citizen requests for play modules or dog parks are legitimate demands, but by building them “maybe we will be causing prejudice to other groups. That’s what we want to avoid.”
Laval boasts more than 200 local and large parks, dog parks (6), accessible riverbanks and greenspaces. “There are so many demands from different people and many are contradictory. To get a clear vision we need a global picture. Maybe dog parks are not a priority right now, or maybe they are… but we don’t have a clear picture. It’s all anecdotal. We want to ensure citizens have adequate greenspaces to enjoy to the maximum amount.”
The dog park reference followed December’s council meeting, where responding to a request, councillor responsible for sports and leisure in the city Sandra Desmeules said there are competing demands for greenspace. “We recognize the need and are supportive, but we can’t forget that there are as many demands for sports infrastructure as for dog parks. It would be totally irresponsible to install them without a coherent analysis of each district’s needs.” That prompted Official Opposition leader Michel Trottier to says it’s not a matter of inventory but of “choice. The cost of the fountain in front of city hall could have financed several dog parks.”
The master plan to be conceived by city staff will be presented to councillors around February says Khalil. “There will be a presentation in early 2020, but it’s short on specifics right now. We will discuss what we want to see added and then it will be publicized, communicated and then it’s going to be adopted.”
He says the plan will include a full inventory, what the needs are, and some target dates for completing certain projects as well as public consultations. “It’s a vision of actions to put in place for one, two, maybe even up to 10 years.”
“One of our objectives is to make sure that there’s a park within a certain range for communities. We don’t want people driving five kilometres to find a park. We wanted (a range of about) one kilometre; these are basic criteria in a city. But this will go a little bit further.”
Greenspace work that’s already begun, and work that’s already planned will continue as scheduled.