Barking dog complaints could become less work

Saskatoon city council’s planning, development and community services committee is going to the dogs on Monday.

Here are some of the items on the agenda.

HOWL FOUL

City hall administration is proposing a way to make it easier to file complaints about barking or howling pets.

City council asked last year for a report on making the standard for reporting on nuisance barking apply in the same way throughout the entire day.

Currently, the process for reporting barking complaints during daylight hours (6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends) requires a log to be filled out over five to seven days.

A City of Saskatoon report proposes changes that would shorten the length of time required for the log to be filled out — dropping to two or three days. Other proposed changes include unspecified computer software upgrades and reducing the number of questions required to fill out the log.

The report suggests sticking with the log system so that barking complaints are not used as a tool in disputes between neighbours.

“There is also a good neighbour relationship element that needs to be considered,” the report says.

The current bylaw defines nuisance barking worthy of a fine as lasting 15 straight minutes or longer for night complaints and one hour or longer for daytime complaints.

The Saskatoon Animal Control Agency invesigated 321 complaints about barking or howling in 2017 and issued 47 tickets.

LONG LEASH

Dogs will continue to frolic free north of Hampton Village if a recommendation from city hall is approved.

A city report proposes allowing a leash-free area north of the neighbourhood in west Saskatoon to remain open because thousands of people a year are still using it.

The park is located on Junor Avenue, west of the John G. Diefenbaker International Airport in the Rural Municipality of Corman Park, where enforcing city bylaws is challenging.

Four years ago, city hall administration had recommended closing the park because of the difficulty in enforcing bylaws and the frequent flooding of the access road. City council asked for more information about usage of the park.

Since 2015, access to the site has been improved and the city is talking with the RM of Corman Park about enforcing city bylaws in off-leash dog parks in the rural municipality.

A study of visits over one week last year suggested more people are visiting the Hampton Village park than the nearby Paul Mostoway Off-Leash Area. The latter became the city’s 10th off-leash area in December 2017.

The city’s estimates of visits suggests 19,800 a year for Hampton Village and 10,200 for Paul Mostoway.

The report suggests spending $180,000 leftover from upgrades to Paul Mostoway to improve Hampton Village.

NO MORE LOANS

A changing housing market in Saskatoon will likely end a program designed to help first-time home buyers.

A city hall report recommends ending a program introduced in 2011 in the middle of Saskatoon’s housing boom.

The City of Saskatoon partnered with Affinity Credit Union to offer equity loans to moderate income households so they could purchase a first home. The city allocated $3 million with the goal of 50 new homebuyers a year; Affinity administered the program.

In total, 135 loans were issued, including 30 in 2011, 28 in 2013 and 24 in 2016. The number of loans dropped to three in each of 2017 and 2018.

In 2016, the city reduced the amount of money for the program to $1.5 million and slashed the target for new home purchases to 25.

The city administration and Affinity have agreed the lack of interest means it’s time to shutter the program.

“Entry level home buyers now have more housing options than they did in the 2011 to 2016 period,” the report says.

If the committee and then city council approve, the program would be discontinued at the end of February. About $400,000 in loans still needs to be repaid to the city, and $1.1 million remains in the program’s account.

ptank@postmedia.com

twitter.com/thinktankSK

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