Fans of the former Fountain Park skywalk will have something new to grab on to as the city embarks on a plan to install a climbing wall.
Councillors narrowly voted on Nov. 28 to fund the six-foot structure, which will be installed in the deep end of the leisure pool at a cost of $20,000.
Diane Enger, recreation and parks director, said the idea for the climbing wall developed from informal public feedback, with Fountain Park one of the main locations they wanted more amenities at.
Currently, the park has a water slide area and a smaller ladder slide, but no other aquatic play features. There used to be a skywalk but that was removed in 2015 due to age and wear.
The project was not originally slated for 2018 but Coun. Sheena Hughes brought it forward in order to fill what she described as a “void” in Fountain Park Pool’s recreational area.
“Any time you add some additional unit that you can actually play with when you’re there, it just adds value to the experience,” she said.
“In other pools, they’ve had this and it’s been very well received. And if there’s one thing kids like to do, it’s climb.”
Councillors voted 4-3 in favour of funding the wall, with Hughes, Coun. Ken MacKay, Coun. Ray Watkins and Coun. Wes Brodhead voting in favour.
Joly said she is concerned with how busy and cluttered Fountain Park Pool is already and said she has talked to some lane swimmers who are “horrified” at the idea of having a climbing wall in the way.
“There’s so much stuff at that pool,” she said.
She also questioned the safety of the structure, noting it could block the view of lifeguards.
“To put up a big block in visibility is a concern for me,” she said.
Enger said the wall would need to be monitored once installed but adheres to safety requirements.
“We have to ensure there’s safe practices in place,” she said.
Joly also questioned the necessity of the project.
“This to me sounds like a nice-to-have that might just cause us more headaches than what it’s worth,” she said.
Hughes said councillors need to consider something to “fill the void” at Fountain Park, whether it be the climbing wall this year or something else next year.
“Any time we can improve the value of the swim experience, that is something the kids do appreciate,” she said.
Originally, Hughes had moved for an additional $20,000 for a climbing wall at Grosvenor Outdoor Pool as well but did not bring that part forward for the vote.