Hot summer has translated into big demand for new Elmira splash pad

Children were happy to be completely soaked at the Bolender Park splash pad on August 16. The facility uses an average of 258 cubic metres of water per day. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Hot, hazy and humid weather has made Elmira’s splash pad a popular destination in its first full summer of operation. How that will impact the township’s planned operating budget is still to be determined.

The Bolender Park facility opened at the tail end of last summer, taking advantage of a warm start to fall. Since an official grand opening  on June 2 this year, the place has been busy. There’s been much splashing around and very little fretting about the costs, notes Woolwich’s director of recreation and facilities.

“Council had approved $30,000 in the annual budget,” Ann McArthur said. “So that was approved in January. And that’s for operating the pad, so that primarily includes the use of water and any chemicals that we need for the system.”

Operating costs, a topic of council debate when the facility was being planned, haven’t been an issue to this point, she added.

“I have not heard of any complaints; we’ve had lots of positive feedback from the community who are just thoroughly enjoying it,” said McArthur. “Both residents and tourists are coming in, because it’s quite a lovely splash pad. [They] are enjoying it, so I’ve personally only received positive feedback on it.”

That sentiment was attested to by Tanya Olsen Pirki, who lives on the northeast end of Waterloo. She frequents the Bolender splash pad with her three children and has visited three times since the park opened.

“Yes, the splash pad is definitely worth having,” said Pirki. “My kids are 10, 10 and 6, and they love it there. The new playground is great too. We honestly don’t have one comparable anywhere in Waterloo. Or in Kitchener, for that matter. There is Lions Lagoon at Waterloo Park, but it isn’t nearly as clean and very dated.”

The township plans to use the data collected from this first year of operating to determine the next course of action for next year. On average, the daily water consumption of the pad is 258 cubic metres, which translates into $443.76 at the township’s water rate of $1.72 per cubic metre.

“It’s our first year of operations, so we really didn’t know what to expect either,” said McArthur. “There are all kinds of formulas to calculate how much water you’re going to use, and how much staff time, but until you operate for a year, we didn’t have a true picture of what it’s going to cost. I think now we’ll be able to evaluate.”

Plans to reduce costs for next year include opening the splash pad slightly later in the summer, as well as reducing the hours of operation.

“I don’t think this would be a typical summer,” said McArthur. “It’s been a really hot summer. People want to explore it, and we’ve had a lot of visitors. So we’ll have to take that back and just consider what we’re going to do in terms of operating for next year, whether we can continue to operate the same number of hours.

“We started in early June because that’s when the opening was scheduled for. We might push it to start a little later in June. And then we’re planning to close September 9. And we do check usage every day, so we have a relatively good handle on water costs.”

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