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Dog park officially opens

Lauren MacGill

Committee members held a "leash cutting" ceremony on August 22 to officially welcome the dog park into its new space. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

Committee members held a "leash cutting" ceremony on August 22 to officially welcome the dog park into its new space. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

WINKLER - 

Winkler’s dogs now have a space to run, as the Winkler Dog Park has officially opened.

“We’re very pleased,” committee member Martha Olfert said. “This is what we were thinking of and dreaming of for the last several months, so it’s really exciting to see it open and used.”

The dog park is located beside Winkler’s water treatment plant. The land belongs to the City of Winkler but was set aside for the project. All the money for fencing and setting up the park was raised by the committee.

The committee held a fundraiser for the park in May, which Olfert said was well-attended.

Several businesses and private donors also donated money to get the park up and running.

“It certainly has been a community project,” Olfert said. “It’s great that the community really has stepped up in all aspects to help us out with this.”

Mayor Martin Harder cut the ceremonial leash to officially open the park, and lauded the community-driven project. “I think it’s a great example,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which project you look at, the community has got behind it and invested in it. We can say whatever we want, we can push a project, but we have to convince the community. It works much better if the community is behind it.”

The park has already been a big hit with dog owners. “My son was here the other night and he said, ‘There are seven other dogs besides mine,’” Olfert said. “It’s awesome. Usually there’s several dogs here at any one time.”

The park hasn’t just been beneficial for the dogs, either.

Michelle Penner lives in Winkler and has been bringing her dog Cairo to the park. “I’ve found that when I come here, I’m also meeting a lot more people in Winkler that I never would have gotten the chance to meet,” she said. “We all have this one common thing, that you love your dog, and there’s a lot of people that I have met and met repeatedly that I had never even seen around before.”

It’s just one additional benefit of having such a park. “If you bring your dog here, it’s nice for the humans to be able to talk and the dogs to play,” Olfert said. “It’s very social for both.”

Olfert wants dog owners to register their dogs with the city, as all proceeds from registrations will go directly to the dog park.

Right now, the space is open, with a few benches and garbage bins set up. Olfert would like to see some trees planted to give some shade to dogs and owners alike. As well, she hopes a water source will be installed, and some lights for early morning or late night users.