Posted on 19 September 2012 by Keith Lacey
There are still some major hurdles to overcome, but members of the Town of Osoyoos council were unanimous in their support to build a new splash park in this community – with a tentative deadline of next June and preferred location at Jack Shaw Gardens.
“I think we should set a target date of June of 2013 (to open the splash park),” said Mayor Stu Wells during council’s committee of the whole meeting Monday. “I think we should set that date and move backwards from there so we know exactly what we have to do to be open then.
“I would hate to see this become a two-year project when we have the kind of energy we have now in this community.”
Following a presentation by Gerald Davis, the town’s director of community planning, all members of council agreed there is tremendous support to open a splash park in Osoyoos.
Coun. Mike Plante, who is a member of the local splash park committee that was formed in January, said his committee is dedicated and committed to opening this new facility, hopefully by early next summer.
Town council has budgeted $100,000 towards the new splash park.
The local committee recently completed a tour of splash parks in Lake Country, Penticton, Oliver and West Kelowna to look at various models and this tour only convinced the committee of how popular these splash parks are and how much they would enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors, said Plante.
Wells said he was extremely disappointed four years ago when the idea to build a new splash park in Osoyoos fell apart.
At that time, a splash park was proposed for Kinsman Park and a pricetag of roughly $800,000 was set and momentum was building when things suddenly fell apart and the idea never got off the ground four years ago.
The amount of “community buy in” this time around is much greater and forming a local committee to oversee the planning and development of the splash park has been a wonderful idea with great results over the past several months, said Wells.
The number of local business owners who have personally approached him willing and ready to provide services and materials in-kind towards a new splash park has been overwhelming, said Wells.
“We have a huge community commitment this time around,” he said. “I really hope we can embrace the community aspect and make it a community-minded event for fundraising.”
The Osoyoos Rotary Club has also championed raising funds for the proposed splash park and are committed to holding several events to raise money for the project, said Wells.
At the inaugural Osoyoos Celebrates festival this past weekend, the Rotary Club sponsored the Lobster on the Beach event, which was sold out in advance and attracted more than 200 people at $65 a ticket down to Gyro Beach for a Saturday evening celebration.
All proceeds from that event will be going towards building a new splash park in Osoyoos.
During his presentation, Davis said the pricetag for a splash park the size of the one being proposed for Jack Shaw Gardens is between $258,000 and $480,000.
It will be up to council to decide how much money should be spent, said Davis.
Following his presentation, council voted to whittle down 10 options presented by Davis at their next meeting of council on Monday, Oct. 1.
Coun. C.J. Rhodes agreed the amount of community support for a new splash park is incredible.
“I’m so happy about the energy this is bringing to our community,” he said. “One of my biggest disappointments on council was when this idea (for a splash park) fell apart back in 2008.
“The aspect of collaboration is so important and I feel we really have that with this proposal.”
If the proposal to open the new splash park at Jack Shaw Gardens does proceed, it will be very important to keep all neighbourhood residents informed every step of the way, said Rhodes.
The proposed location is located in a well-populated residential area and keeping all neighbours informed will “prevent a backlash,” said Rhodes. “We must meet with the neighbours and let them know what’s going on and allow feedback from them.”
The splash parks he has visited have “drain away systems” that recycle water rapidly and don’t use a lot of water, said Wells.
Usage will also be controlled by activators and timers, which will conserve huge amounts of water, he said.
It’s crucial town staff continue working with Interior Health and other government agencies to get the approval needed to open the splash park in time for next summer, said Wells.
The local committee has been in contact with two businesses that design, develop and build splash parks and both have attended committee meetings to give presentations on the process they would undertake, said Davis.
After looking at various sites, Jack Shaw Gardens emerged as the best site for the proposed splash park, said Davis.
“The area itself is a natural green grass play area,” he said. “It is currently used by the summer program for activities and, of course, it is a short walk to the lake. The most impressive factor about this site is the old abandoned well.
“This was tested and was a suitable source of waters in terms of its flow rate and recovery. If this well water does not have to be chlorinated, we can discharge the once through water into the storm drain.”
Interior Health will eventually decide if this will work, he said.
There are also washrooms onsite at the Lions Club building and the local Lions Club has verbally approved the use of these washrooms for public use, but they will need renovations, said Davis.
While there isn’t a lot of parking onsite, there is ample parking close by at the Sonora Community Centre, Osoyoos Elementary School and in front of the Cactus Centre, he said.
If the water has to be chlorinated, which will be determined by testing from Interior Health and Swimming Pool Regulations of B.C., it would have to be discharged into the sanitary sewer system, but there isn’t sufficient capacity to handle that amount of water and current potable water resources would have to be used, he said.
“Jack Shaw Gardens is the only area that has a potentially suitable water supply, while all other areas would have to utilize town water resources,” he said.
There are numerous grants available in B.C. for splash parks, said Plante.
If Jack Shaw does emerge as the final site, extra costs would include washroom upgrades, fencing along 89 Street, adding some playground equipment, site furnishings, shade structures, landscaping and drain lines and providing adequate electrical power to the park, said Davis.
“Some of these items can be purchased at a later time … the parks with playground equipment incorporated into their design seemed to be more dynamic and popular,” he said.
Davis agreed community support is very strong for the proposed splash park.
“The committee is dedicated to get this project up and running as soon as possible,” he said. “They have come forward and agreed to raise funds and make the splash park a reality.
“The committee has also agreed that Jack Shaw Gardens is the best site, especially if water in the old well is potable and can be used. Once a decision is made, the committee would like to keep the entire community in the loop and install a fundraising thermometer or some other form of indicator to help the community see where we are with fundraising endeavours.
“The committee is very excited and would like to get moving on this as soon as they can.”