Swan Valley Splash Park Committee Update

Submitted by: Shayne Yaschyshyn |The Swan Valley Splash Park (SVSP) committee was struck by a number of individuals develop a Splash Park at the old Kinsmen Pool site on 9th Avenue North. This committees intent was to raise all of the capital money needed to develop the park.

Early in the discussions with the Town of Swan River the cost of operations were presented as a possible barrier to the development. The committee did receive approval through resolution to use the 9th Avenue site and planning began on the capital and operating costs on a waste system style park. The park that was originally presented to the committee was approximately 3000 square feet and had a number of features that would make it stand out from other parks within the province. The capital price tag was approximately $400,000.00 which the committee was confident with value in kind and cash could be raised. The committee assured the Town of Swan River that the construction of the park would not proceed until all capital funds were in place.

At this time the operation costs were brought forward and with the size of park and the cost of the water the annual costs could have amounted to a significantly high cost and a high waste of water so the committee went back to explore possible options to reduce the annual costs and reduce water waste. This resulted in the potential of using a recovery system, which has a higher capital cost but uses less water from a waste perspective. The issue with the recovery system is that there is some monitoring and testing required on a daily basis. One solution to this issue was to move the park to the Richardson Recreation and Wellness Centre (RRWC) site and have the staff there monitor the water as well as look after the park. Our committee approached the Town of Swan River Council again to see if there was agreement for the park to be located at the RRWC and the council agreed with another resolution for the park to be located there.

The intention of the SVSP committee has always been that the committee would raise the capital money required for the development of the park, but with these operational costs becoming an issue the committee included that prior to the start of construction of the park the committee would secure all of the capital money and 10 years of operating monies at the current estimated costs. The operating costs have been estimated at the high end so there is potential that the monies would cover more than 10 years or it could be less as it is an estimate based on what is known right now. The committee has from the start not wanted this to burden the rate payers in the Town of Swan River or the outlying communities. At this point the committee had grown to included representatives from Town of Swan River Council to allow for the transparency in the development.

In the summer of 2017 there were discussions occurring that indicated that there was a difference in opinion of who would become the owner of this park. The primary cause of the confusion was related to the SVSP committee requesting the used of the Town of Swan River’s charitable donation status. At this point the committee halted any redesign plans as it was questionable on what size of park should be planned for. A meeting was held to provide clarity that the Splash Park upon completion would become part of the Swan River Recreation Department responsibilities, at least from the SVSP committee perspective.

There continued to be mix messaging occurring so the SVSP committee met with the Town of Swan River council in February 2018 and requested the Council to confirm that they would take ownership and assume the operations of the Splash Park using the operational money raised by the SVSP Committee and that the monies donated to the SVSP committee from people who requested a charitable receipt be provided one from the Town of Swan River. The SVSP Committee received a response from the Town of Swan River on February 23, 2018 indicating that the Town of Swan River appreciates the efforts of the committee but has decided that the position of council is to follow the resolution passed on December 5th, 2017, which means the Town of Swan River will provide the land and will not be involved with the capital construction or operation of the Splash Park. The Town will not take ownership of the Splash Park after it is constructed and therefore cannot issue charitable donation receipts.

This decision by the Town of Swan River was shocking to our committee as we had attempted to ensure that all of the issues that may have occurred with other projects in the Town of Swan River, specifically with the ongoing operations costs being downloaded to the tax payers, had been addressed. The SVSP committee has been transparent from the initial meetings and discussions with the Town of Swan River that there was no interest in trying to establish an board to look after the Splash Park operations as this results in additional costs for items that the Town could absorb at a better rate with respect to liability insurance and property taxes. There is also the growing trend in all communities that volunteer boards are becoming fewer and farther between and the municipalities are better suited to establish recreation services to look after the recreation infrastructure.

The SVSP Committee is still looking to have this development occur within the Town of Swan River for the use of all valley residents. The intent was that there would be no charge for the use of this park and that is still the goal. The difficulty lies in the lack of a viable partner to assume the management and operation of the park. The SVSP Committee is still of the opinion that the capital money can be raised and that the projected operating cost money of a ten year period can be secured. As of now the committee has commitments from a number of groups for approximately $200,000.00 for the capital and $50,000.00 for the operating which is about 50% of the goal.

The committee would welcome any potential partners to come forward to assume the responsibility of the operations of the park of which the operation dollars raised and the ownership would be assumed by that organization or group. If there is interested people that would like to form a board to operate the park that would be something that could be explored as well. The committee would also welcome any positive or negative feedback to be presented to the Town of Swan River Council, or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Swan-Valley-Splash-Park or to SwanValleySplashPark@outlook.com. The committee also welcomes anyone who is interested to helping out, please contact us via our email.