Splash pad locations shortlisted

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

Shevlin waterfront and Legion Park being costed by administration

The Planning and Development Executive Committee recommended that a potential splash pad water park be located at either the Legion Park/ former West End Rink or at the Shevlin waterfront development.

After this recommendation, the Operations and Facilities Executive Committee will provide council with a cost assessment based on both locations.  

Cody Vangel, chief building official and municipal planner, said in a report that the committee should consider whether public input will be sought via survey to assist in deciding on a location, or if this will remain at the committee and council level.

“Council will be made aware that policing an online survey may be difficult to restrict residents to a single vote each, creating a weighted bias on preferred location,” Vangel said.

Vangel also notes that considerations for space required should include the splash pad water park itself, along with a small building to include washrooms, change rooms and water handling/treatment equipment. Additional parking will be considered on a case by case basis depending on the location, he added in the report.

Coun. Douglas Judson, who also brought the petition forward, said there is a widespread interest in the community in this type of project.

“It’s something I’ve heard about a lot and I wanted to give people a chance to demonstrate to council that it was something they would be interested in seeing and I think in the petition, which was at council last week, you do see a fair amount of support.”

While Judson said community engagement needs to be considered, it is ultimately council’s decision.

Judson said he prefers the Legion Park location because it has lighting and off street parking. He added that the location along the waterfront is good, but its development is not forecasted in the near future.

“I think it’s important we make investments for young families in the community,” Judson said. “I hear from a lot of people with children that it is a challenge when they hear others trying to move here looking at recreational opportunities for children and I think that our council needs to make strategic decisions to make our community more attractive.”

Coun. Wendy Brunetta said while she agrees with Judson on the timeline of the Shevlin Woodyard development, she thinks it could be done incrementally.

“Maybe the spray park was one of the first areas that we developed in that large tract of land,” Brunetta said. “I can’t see it all happening at one time.”

On the other hand, Fort Frances Mayor June Caul said she prefers the Shevlin Woodyard location because the town is hoping to attract tourists there.

Caul added that when they make a decision they need to consider whether it will be based on what people want or how affordable the project will be.

“It is an extensive amount of money,” Caul said. “We need to be aware of [the cost]. And I would even like to see if there was a way that we could have a splash park and a skating rink in the winter.”

Brunetta also noted that the splash pad water park has not yet been approved by council.

“Our discussion is primarily about choosing a location so that the operations and facilities department can put together proper numbers in terms of how much it’s going to cost so each location would have a different cost figure associated with it,” Brunetta said.

Judson also suggested that the town reach out to neighbouring municipalities like Emo and Kenora. However, Judson said the municipality should drive the project.

“People pay taxes in our community for us to make these investments. And we have the expertise to implement projects like this. We need to demonstrate leadership,” Judson said.