Winnipeg city officials are recommending that council give an Alberta-based hotel chain the green light to build a $75-million water park and hotel complex by The Forks.
Canalta Development, along with WaterFun Products, want to build the 50,000-square-foot water park on city-owned land across from Shaw Park, home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club.
Councillors were briefed on the proposal on Wednesday by city planning officials, who are recommending that the project go ahead.
"This is one of those assets to a city that makes it important and makes it exciting, and gives it that vibrancy that you want to see in the downtown and for your city," Barry Thorgrimson, the city's director of planning, told reporters.
The Canalta-WaterFun proposal will go before a council committee on Friday, followed by the executive policy committee on April 18.
The project could get council's approval by month's end, and Thorgrimson said construction could start by the end of this year.
$7M set aside for water park
The land, located on Waterfront Drive and William Stephenson Way, is currently being used as a parking lot.
The Canalta-WaterFun proposal includes an offer to buy the land for $6 million. There, it would build a world-class water park, a 250-room hotel and a 450-stall parkade.
"I think this is exciting…. This whole area is very vibrant and has great opportunities," Thorgrimson said.
"I think this is just overall good development to support the wishes of council."
The city has set aside $7 million for an indoor water park since 2008, on the condition that the facility be available for public use.
A previous attempt by Canad Inns to put a water park at Polo Park fell through in 2009.
In the latest proposal, the developers have agreed to a long-term public access agreement that would give the city the equivalent of $700,000 a year to allow free public admission to the water park, according to city officials.
The public access agreement would allow families with limited incomes to use "admission vouchers" to use the water park free of charge.
"The City of Winnipeg insisted on a public access agreement," Mayor Sam Katz said in a release.
"We want this water park to be for the entire city to enjoy and take pride in."