A city council vote on a controversial proposal to build a hotel and waterpark at The Forks in Winnipeg has been deferred.

Coun. Dan Vandal requested the proposal be sent back to the city's administration for more information.

The vote on building the waterpark was facing strong opposition and facing defeat leading into Wednesday's council meeting.

Vandal was concerned those opposed to it — both on council and in the public — didn't understand it fully. He said more time is needed to get everyone on the same page.

"I'm still a supporter of the deal. I think it could work; there's lots of things to like about it," Vandal said.

"But my constituents don't feel the same way. I'm going to send it back to the administration for more information, like substantial design plans on what the buildings are going to look like."

His deferral motion passed 10-5.

Canalta Hotels, along with water park designer Waterfun Products, wants to build a 50,000-square-foot facility on city-owned land near the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball stadium and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Proposal splits council

The proposal has caused a rift on council with seven of the 15 having stated they would vote it down on Wednesday.

Many believe the site is too valuable for the proposed project. The land, located at Waterfront Drive and William Stephenson Way, is currently used as a parking lot but is a prime piece of real estate.

There have also been complaints the water park would be too small to be much of an attraction, amounting to little more than a standard water slide and pool attached to a low-budget hotel.

Some people have pointed out that Canalta has no hotels in a major Canadian city, only small towns like Tisdale and Melfort and Moosomin in Saskatchewan, or Hanna and Oyen and Brooks in Alberta.

Canalta has promised a "world-class" water park, 250-room hotel and a 450-stall parkade. However, the company has not provided any detailed designs, which has angered some councillors who refuse to support something they have not seen.

Many councillors also say they have also been inundated with complaints from members of the public who don't like the idea of the city providing a multi-million-dollar subsidy to a private developer.

$7M subsidy offered

The city first set aside $7 million for an indoor water park in 2008, trying to encourage developers to come forward. A condition of the subsidy was that the facility be available for public use.

The city chose a proposal from Canad Inns for a facility in the Polo Park area but the hospitality company pulled the plug on its project in 2009.

The Canalta-Waterfun proposal includes 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 agreement would allow families with limited incomes to use "admission vouchers" to use the water park free of charge.

Canalta has offered to buy the land for $6 million, essentially getting paid $1 million to take the property from the city.

But it has promised a significant return with its project, which it estimates to be worth $75 million.