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Edmonton Heritage festival wants pricey splash park cut

This artist rendering shows what the proposed splash park could look like.


This artist rendering shows what the proposed splash park could look like.

Councillors will decide next week if $1.8 million more is a bridge too far for a proposed water feature in Hawrelak Park, but the Heritage Festival would already like to see the idea shelved.

The proposed splash park and wading pool was originally budgeted at $3.3 million, but after completing design work the cost rose to $5.1 million.

Administration is encouraging council to approve the increase, but Jim Gibbon, executive director of the Heritage Festival Association encouraged council to kill the idea altogether.

Gibbon told council that putting the facility in the middle of the site would divide the festival and make it hard to get around.

“It really splits the park in half,” he said. “It just doesn’t work for us.”

Gibbon said pathways are already crowded getting around the festival and they don’t want another bottleneck.

“This is not about us being grumpy. This is us being worried about safety on the site.”

Coun. Bev Esslinger said she is willing to support the additional money because families and young children will use the site. 

“Many of our neighbourhoods have lost their wading pools and gone to spray parks,” she said.

Administration had offered as an alternative to build only the splash park, without the wading pool, which would shrink both the budget and the size.

Esslinger said she doesn’t want a facility what won’t accommodate demand. 

“You don’t want to have a facility that is too small, because that will just frustrate people.”

She said she understands the Hertiage Festival’s concerns, but doesn’t want to give up on a potentially popular amenity, for three days of summer.

Coun. Scott McKeen echoed that sentiment and said there is no reason  both things can’t be accommodated.

“I think there is still ways to get people through their in an orderly way.”

Council will discuss the issue next Tuesday.

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