There was good news and bad news for the Revelstoke splash park group from Tuesday’s council meeting.
The good news is council chose Farwell Park as the location of the splash park. That means the group can start fundraising in earnest.
The bad news is that council voted to use a recirculating water system instead of a flow-through system, which means much higher upfront costs that the group will have to raise to build the splash park.
“It’s definitely going to tack on a few years to our anticipated timeline,” said Amanda Hathorn-Geary, the group’s leader, following council’s vote. “The goal was to have a one year approval process, one year of fundraising and the next year for implementation. With the doubling of cost, I don’t know.”
Council was presented with a report by Laurie Donato, the city’s director of parks, recreation and culture. In it she recommended Farwell Park be the approved location, and that council support the use of a recirculation system for the park.
On the location issue, the decision came to a matter of cost over location. While the report said Queen Elizabeth Park was a better location, the costs of building in Farwell Park would be about $200,000 cheaper.
Councillor Aaron Orlando, who chaired the city’s parks committee, added the pipes would have to be brought in from behind Revelstoke Secondary School, hence the high cost. Farwell Park, meanwhile, already has the infrastructure in place from the decommissioned wading pool.
There was little discussion about location, and Farwell Park was approved unanimously.
When it came time to vote on what water system, there was considerable debate.
A flow-through system simply takes water from the city’s water system and runs it through the park features and into the ground. The estimated cost of installing this system was $378,000, according to Donato’s report. The operating cost would be about $22,000 per year.
A recirculation system, which runs water through a reservoir where it is treated, would cost $615,000 to install and about $8,000 per year to run.
Donato’s report said the city should go with a recirculation system in order to conserve water. She wrote a flow-through system would contravene the city’s own bylaws and commitments to water conservation.
“The city currently implements water use restrictions during the summer months,” she wrote. “If council supports a flow through system for the splash park, council will need to consider how the splash park will be managed in light of the existing water restrictions.”
Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering, told council that the amount of water that would be used by a flow through system would be the equivalent of 75 single family homes.
“You also have to look at the opportunity cost on the water treatment plant,” he said. A flow-through system would mean that water couldn’t be used for other developments, he added.
Orlando was the only councillor to vote in favour of a flow-through system.
“My preference is for a flow-through system. I think that the cost (of a recirculation system) is prohibitive,” he said. “I am wondering if there isn’t some sort of other water conservation system that can be brought forward.”
Mayor Mark McKee said it wouldn’t be fair to put in a flow-through system that used more water when water restrictions were being put on residents.
“I like the idea of a flow through system but I think we have to lead the way for water conservation and where we’re going to be in the future,” he said. “We’re setting the wrong message out the community.”