Lane bites Dawg

Dalhousie icon fighting new bike lane

Dawgfather PHD stands beside his van on University Avenue on the Dalhousie campus, where a new bike lane is to be built later this fall. Photo: Brendan Shaughnessy

As a boxer, he was knocked out in three provinces. He was jailed for assault, then fractured the jaw of a fellow inmate.

And yet Dawgfather PhD has become one of the most popular people on the Dalhousie University campus. Just by talking.

His original sayings —“it’s dawggynomics, baby!”, “movin’ dogs like weight,” “born with Haterade in his system”—keep students coming back to his hot dog stand as much as the food does.

Lately, the Dawgfather — he legally changed his name from Jerry Reddick two years ago — has a new fight on his hands. He’s been talking about the bike lane slated to run down University Avenue. It will make on-campus biking safer, but it might force him out.

The lane would run from Robie Street to LeMarchant Street, directly behind Dawgfather’s stand in front of the Student Union Building. The 1.8-metre lane and one-metre buffer area would leave no room for his colourful van — or any other on-street parking on these four blocks.

The lane, the first protected one in the province (it will be blocked off from traffic by metre-high plastic poles) is a joint effort of the university and the city (Insert hyperlink:). The goal is to encourage people to take their bikes to school and help the environment.

The two-year pilot project will begin this fall. The province is contributing $150,000 toward the $650,000 estimated cost.

As for the Dawgfather, he is confident the project will be stopped. He says Halifax city council is “violating their own precedent by not consulting with me,” referring to earlier consultations with business owners on Quinpool Road.

But Peninsula North Councillor Jennifer Watts says that situation was different because it involved streetscaping, not a bike lane.

The Dawgfather in his element, chatting with a student. Photo: Brendan Shaughnessy

A large part of the stand’s popularity comes from Dawgfather PHD (the letters stand for Professional Hot Dogger) himself. In the time it takes to have a hot dog at his stand on University Avenue, he’ll shift from Islamic teachings, to his former profession, boxing, to Lord Dalhousie, and then to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He says the city and university have ignored him because “they think they can get away with it. You know what you call that? Arrogance.”

But Halifax South Downtown city councillor Waye Mason, whose ward includes Dal, says there was no need to consult him.

“I don’t see how you consult with a (street) vendor. Vending spots are subject to availability.”

The councillor doubts the Dawgfather can challenge the bike lane project. “He doesn’t have an on-street spot. Building a bike lane doesn’t impact his spot.”

The Dawgfather plans to seek a court injunction to stop the bike lane from being built. He likes his chances, and with good reason: he has already gotten thousands of dollars in traffic tickets thrown out of court, and after a long fight with the city, he was grandfathered into the only vending spot in front of the Student Union Building.

Mason says the goal is to extend the bike lane all the way down Morris Street, through to Hollis and Lower Water streets. In all, there will be at least five kilometres of new bike lanes in the city core by 2019. Dawgfather might still have his stand by then, or he might not. He’ll keep talking either way.