Guelph updates its approach to wading pools, splash pads

August 11, 2017

Staff report – June 6, 2017 – PS-17-10

The City has updated its approach to wading pools and splash pads as it prepares to address aging infrastructure, water use, and future community outdoor recreational needs.

This approach includes closing Guelph’s aging wading pools in Sunny Acres, Mico Valeriote and Exhibition parks and replacing them with a splash pad and/or other park amenity.

The three wading pools have reached the end of their service life and require significant capital investment to maintain and keep them operational. The wading pools were built in 1947 (Sunny Acres), 1974 (Mico Valeriote) and 1970s (Exhibition).

Before the wading pools are removed, park master plans will need to be completed and approved by Guelph City Council. As always, the park master plan process will include community engagement opportunities. Community members will be asked to help create a new park master plan. This process will include sharing and discussing ideas to build a vision, identifying community priorities, choosing park amenities and exploring park concept designs.

Engagement timelines

  • Mico Valeriote Park (summer/fall 2017)
  • Sunny Acres Park (tentatively 2019, pending Council approval)
  • Exhibition Park (tentatively 2020, pending Council approval)

Outdoor water facilities

Currently, the City provides one outdoor pool, three wading pools, one water feature (Market Square) and seven splash pads. However, trends in municipal service delivery suggest that investment in wading pools is giving way to splash pads.

Splash pad benefits

  • No standing water
  • Greater water efficiency (recirculating system) – conform to the City’s Water Efficiency Strategy
  • Improved accessibility – meet the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
  • Increased play value and longer interactive playing hours
  • Support a wider age range (toddler to 14 years)
  • Do not require full-time City aquatic supervision

Annual operating costs (2016)

Splash pad – $15,000 (includes maintenance/repairs, water and utilities)

Wading pool – $19,700 (includes staff wages, maintenance/repairs, water and utilities)

Water use

The cycle of refilling and draining the water in wading pools requires a significant amount of water on a daily basis. Based on the water metering in the parks, the following daily average water consumption for 2016 was:

  • Exhibition Park – filled twice daily: 49.00 m3
  • Sunny Acres Park – filled twice daily: 47.06 m3
  • Mico Valeriote Park – filled once daily: 16.08 m3

Guelph is one of the only Ontario municipalities where all splash pads use recirculation systems. This is because we rely on an aquifer to supply Guelph’s water.

Daily average water consumption for 2016 was:

  • Hanlon Creek Park – 16.35 m3 (older splash pad where water runs continuously all day)
  • Norm Jary Park – 32.58 m3 (older splash pad where water runs continuously all day)
  • South End Community Park –  opened in 2017; anticipate less than 15.00 m3
  • Jubilee Park and Northview Park – opened in 2017; anticipate less than 15.00 m3
  • West End Community Centre – no data available

Next steps

Guelph City Council has directed staff to bring forward a 10-year capital program of work that will identify funds for Council consideration and approval to replace the wading pools with a splash pad and/or other park amenity.