Thunder Bay

New accessible splash pad in Kenora, Ont., breaks ground

Kenora residents will see a new accessible splash pad in the centre of the city come July 1, 2019.

The Rotary Club of Kenora has raised over $530,000 for the splash pad

This is a rendering of what the splash pad in Kenora will look like. The site will feature a water dumper on one end and multiple ground sprays throughout. (Rotary Club of Kenora)

A splash pad in Kenora, Ont., broke ground on Monday, making way for the construction of a new attraction for the city.

"We had a ground breaking yesterday at Norman Park in Kenora. We had a large group of visitors, people from all over town, donors, supporters … all came out to see the groundbreaking," said Debra LeMaistre, the chair of the splash pad committee of the Rotary Club of Kenora.

The club fundraised approximately $530,000 so far of their $560,000 total to build a new splash pad for children in Kenora as a way to celebrate the support of the community.

"Our rotary club is celebrating 100 years of rotary in Kenora in 2020. So we were looking for a project to do to commemorate our 100 years and also to give back to our community for all the support they've given us over the years for our project and programs."

The splash pad will be about the size of a tennis court, said Debra LeMaistre. It will feature a big dumper on one end, along with ground sprays and other water features for toddlers and young children. The splash pad will be "lake themed" with features like frogs and sails.

"I'm hoping that it will blend with the surrounding area," LeMaistre said. "[It's] something new for the children to do and possibly keep tourists in our community maybe just a little longer.

The project came together when the Rotary club formed a committee to look for a project to do. A few city employees then approached the committee and asked if they'd be willing to fundraise for a splash park in Kenora. The rotary club started fundraising in July of 2015.

The splash pad is also meant to be fully accessible for those with mobility issues, including parking lots on either side of the splash pad.

LeMaistre added that there are children in Kenora who are unable to walk on a beach or are in a wheelchair that do not usually get access to the water otherwise.

"We thought this would be an accessible and inclusive play area for all children and children with all levels of ability to mix and mingle and have some fun," said LeMaistre.

She said this opportunity will hopefully bring more people out to the area as the splash pad is in the centre of town and along a bus route.

"We had, I think, over 200 people out for the groundbreaking, which is quite amazing in itself," recalled LeMaistre.

While the splash pad hasn't started construction yet, the project will take about 10 weeks to build and is expected to start around late spring of next year.

"The start of our centennial is July 1, 2019. That'll be the start of the Rotary Club of Kenora's centennial year and we hope to have it up and running for that."