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Campbell River doesn’t want to get soaked by water park

City council was unable to commit last week to helping the Rotary Club with a water park for Willow Point Park.

The park, which is a joint project between both local Rotary Clubs and the Campbell River Firefighters Association, is scheduled to be fully operational this summer, with construction to begin in April.

According to the blueprints, the park would be divided into three sections – one for families, one for teens and one aimed at toddlers.

The family section is supposed to have a major attraction – a Mega Soaker, which would be the first of its kind in B.C.

But at last week’s Tuesday council meeting, city staff weren’t able to guarantee the funding to provide the water or to provide ongoing maintenance for the park.

A report to councillors recommended council provide $75,000 from the Parks Parcel Tax reserve in 2012 for the provision of utility services to the water park site, but when the item came up at the meeting the recommendation changed.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said upon further review staff recommended that council defer any decision to provide utility services for the water park to the 2012 budget deliberations.

“Staff have reviewed the site servicing plan and it will cost $75,000 to provide utility services to the site and another annual $30,000 for maintenance and litter pick-up (as well as routine safety checks, annual servicing and electricity fees),” Milnthorp said.

Ian Baikie, deputy fire chief, said the Rotary Club is still looking for about $50,000 to finance the project, but if council doesn’t make a decision by late March, the group could be in a tough spot.

“We’d like to begin construction in April for a June start and if this decision is not made by April one, that would definitely be a problem,” Baikie said.

Mayor Walter Jakeway said he would ensure there are no obstacles.

“I think we should assure the Rotary Clubs that no matter where we are in the budget deliberations we (council) won’t slow you down,” Jakeway said. “If you need the money, we’ll come up with the money.

“If you need to get going with your contractor, don’t let us slow you down. We’ll catch up.”

However, in a city financial document, the $30,000 for Willow Point Splash Park operations and the $75,000 for the utilities are on the “not recommended list” of service level change requests, which were vetted by senior management.

Despite that, council will still have the final say.

“Should council wish, items can be taken from this list and included in the draft financial plan,” said Laura Ciarniello, the city’s general manager of corporate services. “The review process included an evaluation of the business need for the change, the financial impact it would have on the city, as well as the consequences of not implementing the change.”

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