Winnipeg city councillor paws through budget to find funding for police dog memorial garden

Transcona’s Shawn Nason wants his fellow Winnipeg city councillors to defy the advice of the public service and get behind a memorial for Winnipeg police dogs.

Nason convinced city council’s East Kildonan-Transcona community committee to vote last week for a $25,000 grant from its land dedication reserve fund to help with the cost of a proposed memorial garden for police service dogs.

The proposed memorial garden is expected to cost $300,000. Members of the Winnipeg Police Service have raised just over $75,000 through selling calendars, raising donations and an ongoing campaign to sell memorial stones at the garden. 

This Wednesday, Nason hopes to persuade the city’s executive policy committee to agree to the grant.

“As ward councillor, I look at this from a perspective where it’s in my community [and] it’s something that would add to the community, raise awareness and bring people to the area to reflect and enjoy it as a community,” Nason told CBC News.

Judge is shown here in a 2016 calendar. The police service has raised just over $75,000 for the memorial garden through selling the calendars. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service)

The city’s public service has opposed the $25,000 grant, saying it doesn’t meet the criteria set out for use of the reserve fund. 

The city’s policy requires those funds to be used for the acquisition of land for parks or recreational facilities, or the creation or continuation of a physical legacy of such facilities.

The memorial garden would be built near the Winnipeg Police Service’s canine kennels on Durand Road. 

Nason says he appreciates the reasoning behind the public service’s opposition, but still believes the service of police dogs is worth some city funding.

The dogs are well trained, he said, and play a vital role in the service.

“These animals are sent in to disarm and bring down individuals before the matter gets out of hand,” Nason said. 

The Transcona councillor hopes his council colleagues will also make contributions from their wards to the project.

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