Ashmore ‘not giving up’ on Omemee splashpad as city staff report throws cold water on idea

By Kirk Winter

Ward 6 councillor Ron Ashmore is “very disappointed” with a report prepared by Craig Shanks, director of community services, on the viability of the Omemee splash pad.

The report, which will be presented to council on March 8 at a committee of the whole meeting, suggests that between the issues of inflation fueled construction costs and problems with location and access to treated water, the Omemee project has some serious issues to consider before approval would be recommended.

In an e-mail exchange with the Advocate, Ashmore rejects the basic thrust of the report that the splash pad cannot be constructed at Omemee Beach Park because of water capacity issues.

Councillor Ron Ashmore.

“There are NO water issues in Omemee whatsoever,” Ashmore wrote. “The splash pad site sits beside a large pond. In fact, it is a small lake and I will be doing the calculations on how many gallons are there. There is no excuse that we cannot use the water there, treat it and use it for the park.”

Ashmore was disappointed that “no contractors” have been approached for prices as well.

“There are so many service groups and individuals willing to partner on this project, and to see this report is disheartening” Ashmore wrote.

When asked if the report would be the end of the Omemee splash pad push for now, the councillor wrote, “I will do what staff should have done and get some prices on the cost of running the water there, as well as some proper bids and estimates. I will receive (the report) Tuesday (at council) and will be putting forward a request for the 2023 capital budget. I will be asking for a recorded vote the following meeting (March 22) to see who supports Omemee.”

Ashmore first asked council in January of 2021 to receive his memorandum on the possibility of the splash pad and to have staff look into costing a splash pad in the village. Staff came back in June of that year looking for council support to review servicing feasibility, including financing and capital costs, and to report back to council sometime in the last four months of 2021.

Shanks’ report of March 8 addresses the direction given by council, and makes for grim reading for supporters of the splash pad project like Ashmore.

“The status of a potential Omemee splash pad has not changed during the pandemic with one exception, the costs of construction of such an amenity has increased,” Shanks writes.

Shanks makes note that the bulk of the funding for the other three splash pads in the city was accessed by community groups or through development costs courtesy of new home building in the respective area.

Staff estimate the cost of the project to be approximately $500,000, with costs recently increasing “due to the pandemic that is affecting the entire construction industry.”

“If a splash pad proposal for Omemee is determined to move forward water capacity issues in the village would need to be addressed,” Shanks writes, “and would come with a significant investment required. At present, it is understood that water capacity only exists within the western boundaries of Omemee and is not available at Omemee Beach Park.”

Shanks writes that due to a lack of water capacity a re-circulation system may be required and “this would add complexity and cost to the project.” He suggests that costs for the mechanics and installation of a re-circulation system could be as much as $150,000.

“Based on the servicing capacity concerns, if council wishes to proceed with the option of creating an Omemee splash pad, a capital budget in the amount of $100,000 could be included in the 2023 capital budget deliberations for a water servicing study and splash pad design to allow for an exact costing and feasibility to be determined,” Shanks writes.

Shanks, in his concluding comments to council, wrote, “Staff are aware that an Omemee splash pad project would be supported by the Omemee community in principle and that many community groups, service clubs and some potential private interest would assist in funding this project.”

Shanks noted if the project were to receive council support, staff would reach out to the community to firm up these commitments to allow the community to generate and apply for the required fundraising for this facility “based on exacting costing requirements pending the design and feasibility study.”

1 Comment

  1. T. D'Arcy McGee says:

    Councillor Ashmore seems to receive an inordinate amount of coverage in the Advocate, as opposed to others on council, who work together, & do their job. I realize it’s an election year, & Ashmore has yet to finalize the gas station he promised some years ago, but he appears to go out of his way to alienate fellow councilors & staff, in order to get his name in front of the public. In the 2018 election,he garnered less than 21% of the votes in a hotly contested 7 person race. & will likely face formidable opposition this Fall from citizens prepared to work together with council & staff for the betterment or Ward 6 residents, & our city as a whole.

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