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City adopts splash pad policy

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

As the mercury rises on the thermometer, city council hopes to help residents stay cool with a new policy on splash pads.

During budget deliberations in January, council directed staff to develop an official policy and report back.

According to a recent report presented to council, city staff reached out to 19 different municipalities to see if they had such a policy.

Of the 10 municipalities which responded, a wide variety of answers were received.

In Durham Region, both Pickering and Ajax use a recreation master plan which recommends one splash pad for every 5,000 children under the age of 14, while Clarington does not have an established splash pad policy.

The Town of Halton Hills uses a “comprehensive” splash pad design guideline which sets policies for where splash pads are constructed, as well as the size and number of features.

There is no defined policy in the City of Toronto where splash pads are designed on a case-by-case basis.

Oshawa currently has six splash pads serving 16,949 children between the ages of 0 and nine years old, equating to one splash pad for every 2,825 children in that age group.

By comparison, Ajax has four splash pads for a population of 15,670, Pickering has one for a population of 9,695, and Whitby has 14 splash pads for a population of 17,666.

Within the six splash pads in Oshawa, none are considered to be a “major” splash pad.

Staff define “major” splash pads as “destination play areas that provide a high level of service due to the complex water features that can be accommodated.”

The Parks, Recreation, Library and Culture Facility Needs Assessment, completed in 2015, recommended that at least one of the City’s minor splash pads be converted into a major splash pad.

Under the approved policy, the city has set a guideline of a 3,000 metre service radius for major splash pads, and a 1,500 metre service radius for minor splash pads.

The policy has also set out a number of design guidelines such as:

– Developing a 200 sq. m. design standard for all parks that require a minor splash pad, and a 500 sq. m. design standard for all parks that require a major splash pad

– All new/redeveloped splash pads will incorporate concrete surfacing for enhanced service life

– Shading and passive cooling infrastructure, parking and washrooms are to be incorporated into designs

– Splash pads should meet provincial and federal accessibility legislation

– Consideration should be given to lighting to allow for the extension of use of the facility into the late evening during high temperature periods

Council also set aside $100,000 for potential construction of a splash pad at Sandy Hawley Park.