Yellowknife mayor Mark Heyck hanging on to splash park idea

The mayor of Yellowknife is encouraging students to keep fighting for a splash park near city hall after the project was dropped from the 2016 budget.

$570,000 project dropped from 2016 budget, didn't gain councillors' support

Mayor Mark Heyck holds a cardboard display that Grade 2 students presented to him in 2014, proposing that the city consider a splash park. Heyck is encouraging students to keep fighting for the waterpark, after it was dropped from the 2016 budget. (CBC)

The mayor of Yellowknife is encouraging students to keep fighting for a splash park near city hall after the project was dropped from the 2016 budget.

Grade 2 students proposed the 3,000-square-foot water attraction adjacent to Somba K'e Civic Plaza during an elaborate presentation, complete with designs, letters and poll results, to Mayor Mark Heyck in 2014.

Heyck was so impressed, he asked city administration to cost out the project, and ultimately the $570,000 splash park made it on to the 2016 draft city budget.

But when it came time for council to vote on the project, the mayor was its lone supporter. 

All the councillors nixed the splash park, with one suggesting children living in a town with only two months of summer a year could set up sprinklers on their lawns.

But Heyck hasn't let the splash park go.

"We've certainly heard from a lot of Yellowknifers, and not only the youth of the community, but a lot of parents and adults who felt that a splash park would be a nice addition to Yellowknife's list of amenities, to get kids out and active in the summertime," Heyck said.

He noted that council doesn't often hear from a young demographic at their meetings.

A Range Lake North student's concept of the proposed Yellowknife spray park back in 2014. (CBC)

"I was really struck, initially in 2014, when this group of students came forward and put together a really well-reasoned argument why this would be a nice amenity for Yellowknife," he said.

"I think [they] did a really wonderful job of engaging with their local government to see something that would improve the quality of life."

Heyck says he relayed to a teacher other avenues to communicate with council members, and many students wrote councillors letters expressing their disappointment in the decision to drop the project.

"Councillors have started to hear the other side of the issue, and we'll see what we can do going forward," he said.

Taj Mahal next?

Heyck says he'll be lobbying for the splash park in the spring, when council provides input into next year's budget.

Councillor Julian Morse says he doesn't see the project happening.

"I would say very unlikely," Morse said. "I personally feel there's just bigger priorities out there."

Councillor Neils Konge says there's nothing stopping residents from proposing that the city build a Taj Mahal, but adds that it's up to council to decide where tax dollars will be spent.

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