On March 24, council voted unanimously to approve use of portions of Lot 2, Block S, Plan 4193JK and Block D, Plan 7282JK (directly south of Parkside Manor in Confederation Park) for a water spray park to be constructed by a group of individuals and companies coordinated by the Taber Splash Pad Committee (TSPC), and approved in general the layout and concept of the development plan, with specific details to be addressed through the town’s usual development approval process.
As part of the same motion, council agreed to waive the usual fees associated with development approval, pay the building permit application fee for the proposed washroom building (approximately $300), and agreed to own, operate and maintain the spray park once it is completed (an estimated $30,000 annually plus any required repairs and replacement).
A decision on the TSPC’s request that the town reimburse the Taber Kiwanis Club for GST to be paid on equipment purchased was deferred until council’s April 14 meeting.
In their submission to council, the TSPC indicated they had raised their entire budget of $330,000 by way of cash, in-kind donations and commitments.
“The magnitude of community support that we received after you gave us approval on Dec. 16, 2013 was very overwhelming,” said Bruce Warkentin, representing the committee. “In the three months that followed we’ve raised our entire budget of $330,000.”
An approved design by PlayQuest Recreation has been selected by the TSPC. According to the information provided, PlayQuest has been involved with the construction of 47 spray parks in Alberta between 2005 and 2014, and uses the Vortex brand of spray equipment.
The TSPC selected a flow-through system design versus re-circulation, as a re-circulated system would have increased costs by an estimated $150,000, and water usage costs for a flow-through system are only estimated to be roughly $14,000 per year, due to usage of multiple zones and specially designed flow-through nozzles.
With regard to two requests from the TSPC, administration recommended not approving the committee’s wording of “plans as presented”, indicating this would be restrictive for all parties as it allows for no adjustment mid-stream without a return to council for approval of a change.
Commenting on council’s decision to defer consideration of the GST reimbursement issue as well as other concerns brought forward by administration, Coun. Randy Sparks praised their dedication to due diligence.
“Our administration has a responsibility to look after every citizen of the Town of Taber, and to bring council information. I personally appreciate administration coming to this meeting and not being shy or afraid to give us the goods on what needs to happen here.”
The total area of the splash pad will be 467 metres squared (5025 square feet), with a spray area of 358 metres squared (3847 square feet), with 16 different water features. Other concerns raised by administration included water flow volumes into the sewage system at the spray park location, and whether these flows could be handled under present capacity.
In a memo from Associated Engineering, the firm outlined concerns with regard to the proposed specifications for the spray park, indicating a 100mm water service may be undersized for the proposed flows, and recommended upgrading to 150mm to minimize velocities during normal operation.
Associated Engineering identified that constraints in the trunk sewer downstream of the proposed site and flows to the sanitary sewer as a result of the development will need to be limited.
Cognizant of these concerns due to restrictions on sewer flow and that the project will require a holding tank to be installed, the added cost of this addition has been factored into the TSPC operating budget.
With regard to the estimated annual operating cost of the facility for the Town of Taber, Coun. Jack Brewin indicated it was important to note the washroom facility to be constructed as part of the project represented a significant portion of this annual cost, and will be utilized by patrons not specific to the spray park.
“The cost of operating of $30,000 is including the washroom, and the washroom isn’t just serving the spray park, it’s also serving the whole area there — the ball diamonds, skatepark, everything. That’s a little iffy on cost — we need to keep that in mind. It is a cost, but it’s not just serving the spray park.”
Coun. Sparks felt the annual operating estimate was too low for what actual costs might be in future.
“I personally believe $30,000 is a little bit on the shy side as far as I’m concerned. As this gets underway and the town takes over ownership, I believe that this $30,000, in the future, could be quite a bit shy as this project moves on.”
Mayor Henk De Vlieger admitted annual operating costs for the town would be hard to determine at this early stage in project development.
“It’s probably hard to predict from year to year, and if it can be combined with monitoring the rest of the facilities. I think after a year, it will tell how much it costs. It’s a shot in the dark.”
According to submissions from PlayQuest, flow-through splash pads take water from a potable water source, run the water through the features, and then runs the water down the drains to sanitary sewer lines. The water is then treated at the municipal treatment centre. This type of operating system is the most common, and requires the least capital investment, a lower risk of shutdown, and very low maintenance.
Less common are re-circulated splash pads, which filter, treat and reuse the water in a closed system. These systems require underground tanks, chemical controllers, pumps, chemical tanks and sand filters, much like a pool. The initial capital investment is also considerably higher.
PlayQuest noted flow-through systems require little for ongoing costs beyond the water itself, with electricity costs negligible and annual maintenance amounting to winterizing pipes and turning water off.