District of Kitimat staff is exploring the potential for a spray park, a project its backer will be considered in preparations leading up to the 2022 budget.
Kitimat resident Graham Pitzel has been working on the idea with RecTec Industries, a playground equipment distributor, and brought information forward at the June 2021 regular council meeting.
Though Pitzel believes the location of the waterpark would be ideal at Lions Park in the downtown area beside the Tamitik Recreational Centre, he also suggested that Chilko Park would be another good location but is worried about the lack of parking available around the park.
“Those seem to be the most centralized locations that would be able to grab the most amount of people, considering the district is working on funnelling people into the downtown area,” Pitzel said.
Though Pitzel suggested two areas he believes would be a good fit for the community, council emphasized that the Heron Street spray park already has plumbing from the wading pools, which could potentially be an easier position to install a new spray park.
Hoping to start construction by 2022, the estimated total operating days of the spray park would be around 72 days with the park opening roughly around the end of each June, Pitzel said.
The total cost of the spray park would range anywhere between $380,000 to $845,000 depending on the materials used and the location of the spray park.
If the project proceeds, Pitzel will be looking for grants and funding options from major industries like LNG Canada and Rio Tinto, as well as the District of Kitimat.
That’s why he wants comments from district staff so when it comes to a formal request for money, he doesn’t have to make any major adjustments.
“It’s wonderful to add to the downtown core but at the same token, it’s wonderful to have things in the neighbourhoods where children live, so they can walk or ride their bikes to these facilities,” councillor Mario Feldhoff said while speaking in favour of staff to explore the potential of a spray park at the Heron Street wadding pools.
In a 3-D rendering of the spray park that Pitzel gave to council, he shows that the park equipment is strategized to provide use for all ages.
“It’s kind of split into three zones, the back zone is more of an older kid zone with higher flows, dumps buckets and water guns, and then it progressively gets to a younger audience as it moves forward with like ground sprays and water features with light water trickling out,” Pitzel said.
Pitzel also suggested two different kinds of water systems for the spray park.
The first water system option is a drain to waste, which is a once-through system that takes potable water and runs through the park and drains into the sewer system.
This water system would help the project’s upfront costs with a $95,000 savings during the initial development but would end up costing the district over $510,000 by the tenth season just for water usage.
The second water system is a recirculation system, which is a closed-circuit system that recycles and disinfects the water to and from the play area through an advanced water quality management system.
Though the upfront cost of a recirculation system is estimated at $125,000 during initial development, the overall water usage costs by the tenth season would roughly be around $199,000, saving roughly $310,000.
Pitzel emphasized that the recirculating water system also has more environmental benefits compared to the drain to waste system which would have fairly clean water going straight through the park and out to the sewers.
Back in 2014, there was talk between the council and the Leisure Services Department about potentially upgrading the wadding pool at Heron street park, to make it more accessible for people with mobility issues.
Concept art also showed a proposed raised ‘river’ in the middle, where toddler-aged children could play in the shallow water, which would have costed a total of $177,000.
Similar upgrades were conceptualized for the Chilko Park as well, however, as the proposition allowed the public to turn on and off the water at their own convenience, the park wouldn’t have needed an attendant if the work proceeded. Totalling costs approximately $397,000.
Unfortunately, no upgrades were completed as other projects were deemed of higher priority.