Council gives Breslau splash pad project another greenlight
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Council gives Breslau splash pad project another greenlight

A renewed bid to build a splash pad in Breslau won the endorsement of Woolwich council this week.

The idea was first approved in 2012, then reaffirmed by council five years ago.

The latest plan calls for a scaled-back version – to 1,650 square feet from 4,300 sq. ft. – at a cost of $275,000, with all of the money to be provided by the community.

Meeting by videoconference Monday night, councillors heard from the newly formed Breslau Community Fundraising Group, made of volunteers, the Breslau Lions Club and the Breslau Recreation Association.

Committee member David Giacomazzi said the project is emerging from the limbo that occurred in 2015-16 as the township considered selling off part of Breslau Memorial Park to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. That idea was eventually scrapped due to community opposition.

By 2018, the community fundraising effort was having “less-than-optimal results as corporations decided to contribute to other higher community needs,” he said.

The pandemic put a wrench in fundraising efforts, including applications to the province’s Trillium Foundation.

The size of the splash pad was reduced to comply with Woolwich’s concerns about operating costs, particularly the water budget, which is earmarked at about $30,000 per year, in line with the facility in Elmira, which was built entirely through donations.

“A revised splash park concept of approximately 153 square metres (1,650 sq. ft.) featuring over 15 water play features meets the annual operational costs and requirements set forth by the Township of Woolwich,” said committee member Lee McMillan in the presentation to council.

The plan calls for the water used at the park to be drained away rather than treated and reused. Recycling the water would require extensive monitoring and treatment akin to the operation of a swimming pool, a process that would be time-consuming and expensive, explained Woolwich project supervisor Blake Miller.

The draining away of millions of litres of water each season was a red flag for Coun. Larry Shantz, who tried to square the township’s greening initiative with generating so much wastewater.

“I think we’ve set a precedent here because of the Elmira splash pad, so I’m going to support it, but my question to council is ‘how can we justify putting a $100,000 into greening and then we start doing this kind of thing where we start dumping this water down the drain?’ It just goes against everything that we’re that we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

“Part of greening and part of climate change is water conservation, and we’re not conserving water. The second point is we’re doing it at the time when we need the water in the region. We have a watering ban on, and here we are telling people they can’t water their lawns but yet we can pour this water down the drain.”

In that vein, Coun. Patrick Merlihan suggested the township look at installing a holding tank that would allow the grey water to be reused, perhaps to water trees.

There will be some time to investigate options, as the fundraising effort is in the early stages. Currently, the committee has about $46,000 towards the $275,000 goal.

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