Planned water park at Petrie Island won't open in 2022
Nova Scotia company pushes back proposed park opening to 2023
Despite a motion that sailed through Ottawa city council last week, plans for an inflatable water park at Petrie Island have been pushed back at least a year.
Splashifax, a Nova Scotia-based company, was proposing to install an inflatable unicorn and obstacle course at Petrie Island as early as this summer as part of a two-year pilot project.
A motion by Orléans Coun. Matt Luloff last week led to a social media firestorm with hundreds of posts from residents and nature lovers concerned about the impact the water park could have on the community.
Many comments on Facebook tagged the Friends of Petrie Island.
Sherry Nigro, a volunteer with the group, said members are concerned about an increase in traffic and the potential burden on the local flora and fauna — which include rare turtles, birds and plants.
"People are using [the park] for access to nature," Nigro said. "Is that compatible with having a place that's much more of an amusement park?"
WATCH | Possibility of inflatable water park at Petrie Island sparks concern in community
Al Tweddle, who chairs the group that has worked on conservation in the park for 25 years, said emergency vehicle access and parking at Petrie Island is already a problem on a sunny summer day without the hundreds of potential guests at Splashifax.
"I think the idea is good, I just think it should go someplace else," he said.
Tweddle said there are other uses for the park that could help young people engage with its ecological and natural value, without the same potential downsides.
"If you take too much away, you can't put it back."
'Not going forward this year'
Luloff said his motion at council last week was meant to have city staff explore the idea — saying it wouldn't be fair to bring the proposal forward without considering all the angles, which would include having the community weigh in.
"Let me be clear, this project is not going forward this year," Luloff said.
"It's simply impossible to ensure that we have that robust consultation on top of that half a dozen plus approvals that would be required to pull this off."
The councillor said he shares concerns about the ecological and traffic impact of the proposed water park and he spoke to Splashifax about their proposal after seeing some of the reaction.
The motion mentioned an anticipated approval from Transport Canada for the project, to be completed on June 9, but the federal department told CBC News the application remains under review.
WATCH | Petrie Island advocate says proposed water park is 'not compatible' with the area
Splashifax declined an interview with CBC News, but provided a statement where they said their plans to open this summer have been put off to next year.
"We're using that extra time to continue getting staff trained, talking to the community and completing the municipal approvals needed to bring jobs, family fun and the amazing Splashifax experience here next year," said CEO Kristina Lemieux in an email.