District jumps into funding pool for splash park

Canada 150 Legacy funding emphasizes rehabilitation of existing facilities for projects worthy of commemorating Canada's 150th birthday

If all goes well, local kids could be splish-splashing their way around a new splash park by the summer of 2018.

The District of Kent is applying for $165,000 – half the cost of a new splash park. Another $100,000 would come out of the Development Cost Charges and $65,000 from Wayward Pines legacy funds.

The Canada 150 Community infrastructure Program will be investing $150 million to support legacy projects across Canada. Kerry Hilts, director of community, recreation & park services, told the District of Kent Council at their last regular meeting June 8, that a splash park was identified as a “strong” project for support. According to the Canada 150 Infrastructure guidelines, projects would be given preference that undertake meaningful upgrades that will provide long-term benefits to a community.

If the grant is approved, the work could begin in 2016 and must be completed by March, 2018.

The plan is for the splash park to go near the Community Recreation & Cultural Centre, to allow users use of the nearby washroom facilities as well as the proximity of CRCC staff to the site for medical emergencies and other issues.

While Council voted all in support of the proposal, Councillor Sylvia Pranger raised the Ferny Coombe pool as a project in “dire need” of repairs, citing the grant’s criteria to rehabilitate an existing park or facility. Hilts explained that a splash park was considered a rehabilitation of an existing park, by adding amenities to an existing public space. Council agreed to try for funding the splash park with this grant and will address the Ferny Coombe pool through other means.

Mayor John Van Laerhoven fully supported the plan.

“It would be an excellent addition to the community,” said Van Laerhoven.

He said not only would it be good to provide amenities for citizens living in the community to stay here, it would also be an attractant for other young families to move here.

“It’s good we move forward on providing amenities that enhance our community,” said Van Laerhoven.

The District of Kent was the backdrop for the filming of a mini series called Wayward Pines, running now on Fox. More than $200,000 in un-budgeted revenue from the filming was allocated by the District for a Wayward Pines legacy project. In discussions around how to spend the money, residents strongly supported a splash park as a priority project.

Also, a 2008 Leisure Needs Assessment, which was used to gauge community recreation and leisure needs, found that 62 per cent of respondents wanted more aquatic programming, 78 percent wanted more children and family programming and 67 per cent wanted more affordable recreation opportunities.

“A splash park would address all these needs by providing families a safe and enjoyable free aquatic program,” writes Hilts in the staff report.

Benefits identified in the staff report for a splash park include that it is a physically and mentally stimulating activity for play, it is a safe, inclusive and visually pleasing place to play for all ages, stages and abilities, it is a low-maintenance and low-cost recreational opportunity that brings a community together and is a safe and accessible place to enjoy aquatic activities with family and friends. It also provides a free family aquatic activity that does not currently exist within the District and surrounding areas.