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Castlegar scraps dog park lighting project

Castlegar won’t light up its dog park, city council has decided.

During budget discussions, council voted to remove $95,000 set aside for the project from its 2023 budget.

Councillor Cherryl MacLeod, who previously expressed concerns, said she didn’t think it was a good use of money, noting that it would be the equivalent of more than a one per cent tax increase, and she could not find any other lit dog parks in neighbouring communities.

“We’re fortunate and should be thankful to have a dog park,” she said. “I wish it wasn’t in my neighborhood because it causes a lot of grief. I don’t think in this taxation space, or to be brutally honest, at any time, we need to light up that dog park.”

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MacLeod said dog owners have other options to walk their dogs when it’s dark, and she didn’t feel that all citizens should be on the hook for paying for lights.

No one has told her that they disagreed since she initially made her objections known, she said.

City manager Chris Barlow noted that soon after the park was built, they started getting requests from community members for lights, especially in winter when it’s already dark by the time most people get off work. While the project was included in the budget, it has been continually deferred.

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff said she has heard from people who want lights on the dog walk and asked if the city has explored solar options.

Engineering manager Travis Christianson said he has looked at it for several projects, including this one, but concluded it’s not feasible given the hours of direct sunlight in the winter, which would require substantial panels and battery banks.

Council voted to drop the project entirely, with Heaton-Sherstobitoff and mayor Maria McFaddin opposed. McFaddin was hoping to further defer it.

The city’s tentative tax increase for 2023 is 6.66 per cent, down from 10.61 per cent when discussions began. A special budget open house is planned for Thursday at 5 p.m.

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