Source: CBC News (Extract)
Posted: October 17, 2023

Something was missing from the narrow strip of land that makes up the off-leash area near Oakridge in southwest Calgary.

The long stretch of land adjacent to Oakmount Drive connects communities, families and their dogs who often frequent the area to walk.

But there was nowhere to sit.

So Simon Grabowski — a woodworker who lives the park’s neighbouring community — decided to do something about it.

“The motivation was there’s more reasons to do it than not,” he said. “There was definitely a need, there’s senior [citizens] here, you should see them, walking with their sticks … but they still got to walk their dog.”

Using leftover wood from previous projects, Grabowski handcrafted six benches for the park so those who need a place to take a rest can do so.

The benches are all designed differently. Some are more artistic and took around a week to make, with carvings and and markings in the wood.

Others are more simple and took a few hours to craft. They bare the names Winston and Bruno — Grabowski’s late dog and his current companion.

They all, however, have been received well.

People have been sending him emails thanking him for the work he’s done. He’s also seen people take pictures of the some of the benches that he’s made.

“I think they’re great for the community, they’re well-built and nice looking,” said Sarah Weatherdon.

“It gives people more of a chance to sit and chat and drink their coffee and let their dogs play together.”

For 20 years, Weatherdon has frequented the off-leash area, walking her own dogs there for the first 15 years, and has walked dogs for other people with Calgary Dog Walk for the last five.

She says the benches are a good way to promote community and being outside. But some residents expressed the worry that the benches might get removed, since the park is managed and maintained by the city, and it wasn’t a city-commissioned project.

A spokesperson with the city of Calgary told CBC News that they would like to meet with the Grabowski and talk to him to figure out what they’ll be doing with the benches moving forward.