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A little cold weather couldn’t deter dog people from showing River Park some TLC on Saturday, November 14. Drum roll please…
Yay! There were 31 people who gave up an hour and a half to pick up leftover poop and bits of garbage. Some of our regulars dug in with pails and shovels while others preferred to just use bags. A few people who have never encountered our group efforts, learned about the park culture, grabbed a bag and picked up too!
This time we concentrated on the east side where the grass is longer and just as we suspected, helpers reported finding a few too many piles.
Thanks to everyone for doo-ing more than your share to give River Park the care it deserves. It’s great to scoop before the snow is here to stay.
We are so fortunate to have access to a multi-use space that allows off-leash dogs. There are many off-leash parks in Calgary but there’s something really special about River Park. Maybe it’s the view of downtown Calgary and the Elbow River that delights you. Or perhaps you like the variety of trees, gentle grade of the terrain, multitude of benches and access to a port-a-potty. Others love the Cat Margetts memorial area that houses the fountain for dogs and people.
Some of the comments we consistently hear is that it’s so clean and that people who walk dogs at River Park tend to be quite responsible. We also hear that dogs are well behaved and people are super friendly.
Yes, it’s all true. There’s a culture at River Park that’s been nurtured by dog people since acquiring off-leash status in 1987. Dog people love River Park and as a whole, we’re willing to work to maintain our off-leash access. Walking with our dogs is a healthy activity, for dogs and people. The result is a better behaved and well socialized dog – maybe this goes for people too!
On any given day, during any kind of weather, people and dogs can be found walking and playing in River Park. And we want to keep it this way.
If you plan on visiting River Park for the first time or on a regular basis, we hope you’ll join the pack and adopt the culture we’ve worked so hard to maintain. It’s all for the love of our dogs, fellow park users – and of course, the park.
Candice manages the email list, writes the off-leash newsletter and is the creator and manager of our website. She also fills the bag dispensers, coordinates fundraisers, organizes off-leash events and helps manage social media for our group. She and her husband regularly help with maintenance projects and contribute funds toward dog waste bags and various items for the park.
Candice sits on various off-leash committees and was involved in the direction and creation of FRPS’ review of Calgary off-leash spaces. She was a City of Calgary Dog Ambassador for River Park until the program ended in 2010 and was a City of Calgary volunteer with parks until the program ended in 2015.
Candice works as a communications professional specializing in graphic design, digital and social media, advertising, event planning, writing and website management.
Colleen strongly believes in keeping the park clean and can be seen doing her part and more each day. At every one of our clean-up events, she promotes off-leash advocacy by talking to dog owners about the importance of maintaining the park and having well-behaved dogs. Colleen has helped with all of our dog waste bag fundraising events, and spends many hours each week doing her own park clean-up efforts. Colleen leads by example through supporting the park with her own monetary donation to supply dog waste bags for River Park. And by the way, she is the alternate person who fills River Park’s green metal dog waste bag dispensers.
Colleen and her family are neighbourhood residents, and she and her dog, Rosey are fixtures at River Park.
Countless times while walking Rosey, she is recognized by many children and their parents as a former schoolteacher.
Andreas Wissman joined The Friends of River Park leadership team in 2013 to help us keep up with all the fun stuff (and more) related to people and dogs through Twitter. He has been walking in the park since the mid 90’s.
Andreas, Mimi and their Lab cross, Skyy are a big part of River Park’s social scene. On occasion, Andreas randomly stops people in the park to collect photos and info (that could be about your dog and/or you), then posts a short bio of the dogs on our Twitter account.
Andreas, together with Candice, manages the park’s Twitter account to advocate and educate around all park-related as well as human/dog health and wellness issues. He is particularly passionate about the fact that a relatively low-cost facility such as our inner city dog park can have a meaningful impact on community well-being for humans and dogs of all ages. He has to actively suppress his inner science nerd not to tweet too much hard-core science-related news around this.
Speaking of nerd, Andreas started off as a molecular biology scientist but in recent years has become more involved in supporting Calgary’s tech start-up scene (especially as it relates to biotech, health and wellness). Nevertheless, he’s a sucker when it comes to movies such as ‘My Dog Skip’ or ‘Marley & Me’. For that reason, he still hasn’t brought himself to watch ‘Old Yeller’.
Long before owning a dog, Linda S became an Off-leash Calgary member because of her strong beliefs about off-leash advocacy. After acquiring her first dog in 2003, Linda began walking in River Park and joined the Friends of River Park leadership team in 2007.
Linda was instrumental in developing FRPS’ Off-leash Parks presentation. The purpose of this project was to learn about off-leash parks in Calgary and to determine their suitability as off-leash areas from a user perspective. We wanted to have hard evidence that several of the parks were not suitable for any kind of use by people or dogs. Over a period of six months, Linda visited all the 141 parks listed on the City of Calgary’s website and evaluated them, listing their suitability as off-leash areas. Through this project we learned River Park was indeed one of the best off-leash parks in Calgary. Linda’s sharp memory makes her the perfect go-to person for questions related to off-leash parks.
Linda is a retired lawyer who sits on various off-leash committees and donates a great deal of time to River Park. She volunteered as a City of Calgary park ranger until the program ended in 2010. Linda also generously donates many give-away items for our clean-up efforts and social events and donates money for River Park’s dog waste bags.
Patty L, her husband and their two dogs are community-minded neighbourhood residents and long-time walkers in River Park. As a family, they have supported many clean-up events over the years and often conduct their own efforts. They have always generously donated funds to supply dog waste bags for the green metal dispensers in the park.
Patty is a realtor as well as a communications professional who has her own business specializing in event coordination, strategic planning and media relations.
In September 2009, she joined FRPS as a member of our communications team, specializing in strategy, media matters and project management. Patty handles media inquiries for the Friends of River Park Off-leash Advocates and has been quoted in the Calgary Herald.
Nadina was quick to sign up as one of the original members of the FRPS leadership team advising on animal behaviour. She taught dog training courses, and owned and operated a dog daycare until 2012.
She feels many current spaces are inadequate or unsafe and off-leash space has been significantly reduced over the years. Nadina is concerned that designated space is not keeping pace with the city’s growing dog population. She hopes
a decent and fair share of spaces will be designated as dog-only “Bark Parks”.
Continuing with her passion for all animals Nadina started taking courses in animal homeopathy. At first it was for personal interests but she has decided to pursue it with the intention of teaching in the future.
Nadina lends her keen business sense to our group and also supports River Park by donating funds for dog waste bags.
Kate was awarded by the City of Calgary for initiating annual River Park clean-ups and educating others about maintenance and care of the park back in the late 1980s. This effort morphed into the annual citywide clean-up campaign each spring. The Friends of River Park leadership team is grateful to have her experience and expertise.
Kate is also the past president for the Pet Loss Support Group and was instrumental in the erection of a pet memorial wall at the Calgary Humane Society. She was a City of Calgary dog ambassador for River Park until the program ended in 2010 and sat as a committee member to review off-leash spaces.
Kate continues to volunteer with the Friends of River Park leadership committee in the role of public education. She and her husband also donate funds toward dog waste bags for the park.
Before joining the leadership team recently in 2015, Kathleen H has been helping at River Park clean-ups since adopting her dog Molly two years ago. She is an avid runner who can be seen jogging with Molly through various nearby neighbourhoods as well as through River Park.
Kathleen picks up more than her share each time she’s in the park, partly because it’s the right thing to do, but also because Molly is a poop eater. In an odd way that means Molly is doing her part to keep the park clean too.
As a communications professional by day, we are fortunate to have Kathleen provide strategic direction and contribute content for the off-leash newsletter. She has also kindly offered to help manage our Facebook page.
Lynn M, her husband along with their two dogs, McKenzie and Iggy, are longtime River Park members. Since 2009, she and her husband have kindly provided the lost and found boxes as well as any replacements due to vandalism. Lynn also manages the lost and found box content (recycling contents when possible for various charities and discarding other contents as needed).
As a family, they have supported countless park clean-ups and Lynn picks up garbage and any leftovers she comes across during her daily walks.
Lynn worked at one of our tables during the last dog waste bag fundraiser for River Park and their family generously donated to the cause.
Just after the Thanksgiving long weekend in October 2015, when water to the River Park fountain was shut off, our group wrapped the fountain in plastic garbage bags to protect it from dog urine, frost and snow. Fearing the efforts may not be enough, Lynn took it one step further by purchasing a plastic tub and placing it around the base. The fountain will fare well over this winter thanks to Lynn!
Leadership team members meet regularly to discuss strategy and tactics. In the early days of meetings for the park (2006 to 2011) it was decided the best tactic was to educate and inform fellow dog owners about respectful and responsible park use.
Ultimately FRPS’ goal is to preserve off-leash access in this multi-use park. FRPS continues to conduct bi-monthly clean-ups and its members do their own efforts on a daily basis.
The leadership team has affiliations with The Southland Natural Park Society, The Friends of Nosehill, The Friends of Bowmont and The Varsity Off-leash Group.
In 2008-2009, Linda and Candice from the leadership team created an off-leash presentation after visiting and researching each of the 141 off-leash areas listed on The City of Calgary’s website. The purpose was to learn about off-leash parks in Calgary and log pros and cons with each one. We were surprised to discover that many parks were near busy roads, were very small or were unusable and undesirable areas.
It was sent to aldermen and Bill Bruce,The City of Calgary Bylaw Director as well as several radio and television stations. The presentation along with an off-leash advocacy speech was presented by Linda and Candice to the Standing Policy Committee at City Hall early in 2009.
For dog owners, use throughout River Park is designated by signs to indicate off-leash and on-leash areas. Pedestrians and cyclists also frequent the park. Because a gravel trail is conveniently located in the middle of the park, many cyclists use it as a commuter route to access downtown, however, the designated cycling route is 14A Street which also is clearly marked with signs.
River Park is located at 4500 14A Street SW and is open for use from 5am to 11pm. It is often considered part of a wider area that contains Sandy Beach (along the Bow River) and the Britannia Slopes, an escarpment on the east side.