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Making a splash … but next year

It seems as though there will be no relief from this summer’s heat for kids in Wellesley, who were eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new splash pad set to arrive. Complications surrounding permits granted by the Ministry of the Environment and the Grand River Conservation Authority have slowed building progress; it now looks like it will be next summer before the fun can begin

An artist's rendering of a the splash pad coming to Wellesley, though construction has been put off until next spring.

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“Although we are still technically ahead of schedule, it doesn’t look as though we are going to be able to get the area ready for this summer, unfortunately,” said Jennifer Kays Sommer, a Lions Club member and splash park coordinator, adding that the original plan was to start building in spring 2011, but the outpouring of community support and fast fundraising had sparked the idea for earlier development.

In 2008, a group of parents and community members approached the Wellesley Lions Club with the idea for a splash park. Without a lot of trees at the park to provide shade from the hot summer sun, parents and community members from Wellesley decided that a splash pad would be a great incentive for their kids to spend some time outside and get some exercise. The splash park committee was formed, made up of club members and interested parents.

Now, all the plans have been made by the committee, but the MOE is in the process of changing their recommended guidelines for splash park water safety.

“The money has been raised, our plans are in place and our people are in place,” she said. “But we don’t want to rush things now, only to find out that we are not doing all the safety measures required by the ministry.
We are happy to take all the precautions we need to make it as safe as possible.”

The issue being debated by the MOE and the GRCA has to do with UV filtration and standards of water quality. Because splash pads are a relatively new and increasingly popular community fixture, requirements for safety are being updated.

“What we think we will probably do is  go ahead with the building, but make sure that the computer software we are using is advanced enough to accommodate new features that may need to be added if the ministry decides to change the requirements in the future. The upgrade may cost us a bit more up front but it will save us thousands of dollars if the changes do need to be made.”

Now the committee estimates that the build will begin closer to the end of August or beginning of September, and they hope the park will be set to open when the weather gets warm enough next spring or summer.

“As the weeks go by I keep watching and waiting to hear from the different departments,” said Kays Sommer. “We are working as hard as we can, but you can’t rush the system unfortunately.”

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