Town has plans, concept design for splash pad

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Monday night’s Fort Frances Town Council meeting saw some interesting information regarding a proposed splash pad for the municipality, along with a few more details about how it could all come together.

As an item on the committee of the whole agenda, the town was presented with a report from the operations and facilities division regarding a donation from Farm Boy Real Estate to be put towards the construction of a splash pad. The outdoor area has been a topic of discussion for several months now following a petition launched by Councillor Doug Judson and then again when news broke that Beyak Automotive Group had been in early talks with the town to provide funding to cover the costs of a pad.

The proposal from Farm Boy to contribute $100,000 towards construction of a pad in town was accompanied by a report from Travis Rob, the manager for the operations and facilities division. In that report, Rob notes that the town has been working on a plan for a splash pad, going as far to price out the necessary upgrades and facilities that would have to be implemented at the Lillie Avenue park location, as well as a conceptual design for what the pad could look like. Rob wrote in the report that the preliminary design concept incorporates a fishing theme to tie it into the ongoing focus of the Municipal Accommodations Tax (MAT) committee.

Rob writes in his report that the town’s design is for a 3,000 square foot splash pad, to be located in the southern part of Lillie Avenue. The pad itself is what’s called a flow through pad, which uses treated water from the town’s main lines, and then flushes the water directly into the sewer system.

“These pads are substantially cheaper to construct and much easier to maintain requiring much less manpower to operate,” Rob wrote.

“This type of pad is not the preferred, however if mitigating measures are taken, such as setting up a cistern to capture the wastewater and use it for the toilets in the washroom and for irrigation as well as looking at the possibility of discharging the overflow to stormwater. Given the proposed design the estimated annual water consumption for the pad is estimated at 7,073 square metres. Given the current water rate of $2.02 per square metre for water only, the annual costs would be $14,287.83.”

The flow-through pad does cut back on some related costs, as no additional chemicals or filters are needed to clean the water. Town staff would be required to attend to the pad on a daily basis to keep the drains and bathrooms clean, which Rob said could be part of the summer parks student employees responsibilities. The pad would also require staff time to open and close it for the season, as well as for additional maintenance and repairs, which Rob said could be budgeted at $500 per year.

The conceptual design for the municipal splash pad to be located at Lillie Avenue incorporates a fishing theme to tie it into
the MAT committee’s work to promote the town as a tourist destination. – Town of Fort Frances photo

Outside of the splash pad itself, Rob said additional work in the area would need to be done in both the short and long term in order to install a new washroom and pumphouse building, AODA compliant walkways and new service lines. Future work would include a fence along Kings Highway, traffic signals at the Lillie Avenue / Kings Highway intersection, the reconstruction of the avenue for better parking and park access, as well as replacing aged playground equipment.

The immediate cost of the construction of the pad, along with washroom building and pump room, site services and sidewalks is $330,000, Rob wrote in his report, which could be reduced “by any number of measures of donations or having town staff undertake some of the construction works reducing the costs to materials only.” Rob also recommended that town staff be on the lookout for any applicable grant that could be submitted to help secure additional funding for the project.

In order to bring the pad to fruition, Rob wrote that a committee of public individuals, stakeholders and administration be formed to guide the project along, as well as to tackle any additional fundraising that might be required. At Monday night’s meeting, Rob noted there is also a community committee that has already been formed to take on the project in a private capacity, and he raised the possibility of working with that committee to further the splash pad project.

Rob also recommended in his report that the town set up a trust account to accept and control the donations received in support of the splash pad.

Rob said the project’s next steps are to finalize the design aspects of the splash pad, have it vetted through a group of community representatives, and begin the fundraising process in earnest. He did not include a timeline for the project’s completion in his report, though it was written that some funding for related road reconstruction and traffic signal installation could be funded in the 2022 design program funding already contained within this year’s municipal budget.