Council gives thumbs up to splash park

Will use provincial grant to cover cost

The Village of Burns Lake council has decided to use $400,000 from a provincial grant received last year to pay for the construction of a splash at Spirit Square.

The decision, reached at the Jan. 21 council meeting, clears the way for construction of the recreational amenity which was first proposed two years ago but scotched because of cost.

A first proposal to include an outdoor ice rink has been shelved.

Council had already earmarked $1.02 million from the provincial grant of $3.439 million for other projects, including $30,000 for a splash park design, $400,000 for road resurfacing completed last year, $350,000 for a downtown parking lot and $240,000 for road resurfacing this year.

Decisions on using the remaining monies — just over $2 million — from the northern grant will be made this year as council sets out project goals through a five-year financial plan.

In a comprehensive briefing note to council, village finance director Susan Meeds laid out a variety of work and financing scenarios for council to consider.

Cost estimates prepared in 2007, which are considered dated and on the low side of current requirements, amount to $119 million for road resurfacing, full road replacement, sidewalks and sewer and water line replacement in conjunction with sidewalk construction.

Full road replacement, including base repairs, comes to $74 million alone in 2007 dollars.

“Streets and sidewalks are the areas where the village carries the largest infrastructure deficit,” Meeds said. “The village has very limited capacity to fund this work without a significant tax increase. Staff does not recommend using the [provincial] grant funds for water and sewer projects which can easily be funded using the existing frontage tax. Any [provincial grant] reserve funds applied to water and sewer projects will negatively impact the village’s ability to improve its roads and sidewalks.”

The municipality started looking into the possibility of a combined splash park and ice rink at Spirit Square after being approached by the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce a couple of years ago.

Village staff did contact other municipalities, playground equipment suppliers and makers of splash and ice rink parks to explore the options available. But the addition of an ice rink component was considered too costly.

The splash park would use a water recycling system that requires minimal maintenance, and the water would be replaced annually. The facility is expected to be available free of charge.

Building out infrastructure such as splash parks increases a municipality’s livability, the village has stated and a splash park also aligns with the municipality’s master plan for Spirit Square.

(With files from Flavio Nienow)

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