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Council still undecided about reopening splash pad in Wellesley

Wellesley residents may have to find a new way to cool off during the hot days of summer, as township council remains undecided about opening the local splash pad.

When the provincial government moved into phase two of its reopening strategy, recreational facilities such as pools were among those cleared for use under new guidelines. But township officials remain hesitant, weighing their options.

Deliberating on the possibility of reopening the splash pad, councillors meeting Tuesday night via video conference heard a report from director of recreation Danny Roth. He outlined the rules set by the province and recommendations from Region of Waterloo Public Health. Included in guidelines are steps such as maintaining social distancing between all patrons and staff, disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least twice daily, limiting the number of people allowed in at once and posting signs near entrances and visible areas.

Roth’s report offered up three  options: reopening with shorter hours, reopening with shorter hours and staff supervision, and shuttering the facility for the summer. After much discussion, councillors put off a decision until  they meet again on June 30.

In either reopening scenario, the splash pad’s hours would be reduced to 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, as opposed to the normal 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. The number of patrons able to use the pads at any given time will be set at 31 to maintain one person every seven square metres.Some councillors balked at such a high number of people allowed inside and suggested that they reduce the number of patrons.

Under option one, staff would not be able to guarantee the twice daily disinfecting standard – and signage will indicate this to the public. Staff would also reserve the right to shutdown the splash pad in the event users don’t follow the new rules.

Option two would see additional staff hired for two months to monitor the splash pad and watch the entrance, an added cost of $6,000 for one employee or $12,000 for two. The guidelines for disinfecting would also be met under this option as they will have the ability to shutdown the splash pad each day for cleaning.

“In options one or two, we would not be able to open our splash pad until the beginning of July, as we have a contractor booked to complete the transformation of our splash pad from a closed- loop system to a direct to drain system. This work is scheduled for late June or the first week of July and the work would be completed in 1-2 days. If opened, staff recommends signage requesting patrons time at the splash pad to one hour,” said Roth in his report.

The third option would see the splash pad remaining closed for the summer. This would bring budget savings, as there would be no costs for staff or utility bills.

Councillors will be seeking more details ahead of a decision at month’s end.

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