Fort St. John councillors face dog park decision on Monday

Fort St. John city councillors will have four options on the table Monday when it comes to building a brand new off leash dog park.

City staff are still recommending councillors approve a $705,947 contract to Knappett Industries to build the park at Toboggan Hill, and add an extra $368,000 to cover budget overruns.

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Councillors had held off taking that recommendation at their last meeting July 23, asking staff instead for a breakdown of costs for the elements proposed to be included in the dog park, originally budgeted at $500,000.

Though there is no cost breakdown provided in the latest staff report to council due to privacy concerns, full-scale development of the park would include a number of landscape improvements, from tree removal and replanting, fencing, lighting, trail development, and furniture.

It would also include site servicing, from a new parking lot and the installation of utilities including water and sewer services.

"Due to freedom of information requirements we are not able to provide specific unit rates in an open meeting," parks manager Ray Avanthay writes in his report.

Avanthay notes the city's existing dog park was only supposed to be temporary, and city staff have said $500,000 was budgeted as a best estimate for a new park that took in extensive input from the public and user groups.

"The city had only ever constructed a temporary dog park and was embarking on the project with little reliable historical data," Avanthay writes.

What are the options?

Avanthay gives councillors four options to consider, the majority of them proposing to award the full contract to Knappett and finding ways to cover the overruns through various reserves.

Most of the project would be funded through Peace River Agreement funds from the province, which compensates the city for industrial development outside its boundaries.

The first and recommended option is to proceed as planned, with construction to start this year. The overruns would covered through gas tax reserves, of which the city has $1 million stuffed away.

"Funds for remaining work will be carried over into 2019 budget cycle and work on the park will be completed in Spring 2019," Avanthay writes. "Some benefits of this option are that paving can be scheduled for early 2019, before large capital projects are set to begin."

A second option would see construction delayed to 2019, and the overruns still covered by the gas tax reserves. The full allocation for the project would be carried over to the 2019 budget year.

"Earthworks and clearing can be carried out during the first quarter of 2019 and landscaping, plantings and paving will be completed as soon as soil conditions permit in Spring 2019," Avanthay writes.

"Some benefits of this option are that the noisy and disruptive earthworks are carried out during the winter when residents are not using the park as often and when their windows are closed and their furnaces are running."

A third option would see the project start this year, with approved work to be done up to the $500,000 budget set aside for this year. The overruns would be funded by Peace River Agreement funding in the 2019 capital budget.

A fourth option Avanthay proposes is to reject the tender altogether, and send staff back to the drawing board with its dog park designer EDS Group to redesign the park within budget.

While it would reduce the cost of construction, it would add new engineering and consulting fees at the same time, and delay construction. 

"Construction of the Off-Leash Dog Park would be delayed to 2019 or 2020," Avanthay writes.

"This option would require additional consulting and engineering funds for the redesign and retendering."

Plans for the park

The dog park is part of an overall plan to refurbish Toboggan Hill Park.

Plans for the dog park include clearing out eight to nine acres of forest and brush at Toboggan Hill Park along 93 Street, and building three separately fenced areas for miniature, small, and large dogs.

The park would also feature a year-round walking path, a new parking lot, picnic areas, and watering sites. The contract for the work doesn't include a washroom, or a pedestrian trail along 93 Street.

"The park is enhanced by retained natural growth forest combined with grassy open areas and plantings that add color and interest throughout the year," Avanthay writes.

"The gravel and asphalt pathways are enhanced by lighting, benches, dog waste bag dispensers, waste receptacles and a dog friendly water fountain. Parking included in the project will serve the dog park and add value for citizens using the skate park, disk golf course or just walking in the park."

The highest bid to build the park came in from Interoute Construction, who pegged construction at $1.275 million.

S. Young Enterprises submitted a bid of $1.06 million.  

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

Toboggan Hill Park - potential off leash dog park


Toboggan Hill dog park plan. City of Fort St. John


Fort St John Dog Park - Funding and Construction Options by mpreprost on Scribd

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