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Resident expresses dog waste concerns to Powell River Council

Delegate to city committee of the whole wants garbage can for bags at old arena site
CLEANER FACILITY: Appearing before City of Powell River’s committee of the whole, Maureen Christensen advocated for the return of a garbage can where the old arena site is near Willingdon Beach because dog owners are not picking up after their canines.

City of Powell River councillors have been requested to provide a garbage can for dog waste at the southern end of Willingdon Beach park where the old Civic Arena used to stand.

At the May 14 committee of the whole meeting, Maureen Christensen appeared before councillors to advocate for a place where dog owners can dispose of bags of dog waste.

“I’m coming here because I had a falling out with the parks department, but I have had a good relationship with them for the last six years,” said Christensen. “This is year seven and it’s kind of deteriorating.

“About seven years ago I purchased half of a bench down at Willingdon Beach. It was a bench for people that have died of overdose or are struggling with addiction. The city donated a tree, so that was great.”

Christensen said she has been going down and sitting on the bench for the last six years. She said there used to be a garbage can down there. She said she has noticed that it is an impromptu dog park to throw balls for their dogs and engage in activity.

“There were dog waste bags and a garbage can and then the garbage can was taken away about three years ago because the parks supervisor said there were too many people dumping garbage near there, but he left the dog waste bags,” said Christensen. “The dog waste bags were getting used but without the garbage cans people threw them all over the place, which made it really unpleasant. In the hot sun, you can imagine what the dog waste bags do.

“Last year, the parks supervisor decided to take away the dog waste bags. This year, with no dog bags, there is just dog feces all over.”

Christensen said her complaint is that this area of the park is getting poor service. She said it is the “crappy” part of Willingdon Beach.

She said she has been watering the tree and trying to pick up garbage, and is getting really frustrated.

“The last conversation I had about a month ago with the new parks person, I tried to brainstorm with him about putting a small garbage can with some dog bags, but he didn’t want to brainstorm with me,” said Christensen. “I just want it to be nice in that area of the park.”

City councillor Cindy Elliott said she did not know what the policy for garbage cans and dog waste bags is but she would like to know.

Director of parks, recreation and culture Jamie Bretzlaff said the department wants to make sure people’s experiences in all parts of the parks and trails are as good as possible.

“We definitely share the concerns of garbage and dog waste,” said Bretzlaff. “It is something that is an ongoing challenge across many parks. Our overall goal is to make it as easy as possible for the masses, while also trying to be aware of cost efficiencies for the city.

“We do this, generally, by locating our trash bins and dog bags in areas of high use and we try to layer that with keeping all our trash bins as far away as possible from any area closely accessible by vehicle traffic.”

Bretzlaff said with the proximity of vehicle traffic, the city ends up with a fair bit of household waste in the garbage bins, and the city is generally unable to keep up with emptying those. He said city crews generally get to the bins once a week and it takes more than half a day of staff time to empty trash cans.

“We did get rid of the trash can a number of years ago at the Chopping Block side and we were getting a fair number of calls of overflowing garbage, and it was mostly household garbage,” said Bretzlaff. “We are trying to promote people to walk down to Willingdon Beach. It’s about a three-and-a-half-minute comfortable walk [from Chopping Block to the beach garbage containers]. Our goal is to encourage people to head down there for their garbage.”

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