A rainy-afternoon ribbon cutting on Wednesday marked the official opening of St. Albert's new splash pad.
The splash pad, located at Versailles Park in the Ville Giroux neighbourhood near the west end of Giroux Road, is the first water feature to be built in the city since the Woodlands Water Play Park opened in 1995.
Despite off-and-on spouts of rain, upwards of 40 kids we re on hand to test the now-finished playground. The young park-users signalled their approval with bouts of laughter and pleads with parents to stay "just five more minutes."
City staff, firefighters (or, more importantly, a fire truck), two city councillors, and free ice cream made the opening a busy affair.
"We’re really excited to have it up and running. [The park is] still missing some landscaping, but other than that everything’s done,” said Manda Wilde, the interim manager for recreation facility development and partnerships for the city, in an interview.
“This is not a spray park, it’s a splash pad; it’s for small kids," she said, adding that the splash pad is for "floating boats and dipping toes.”
Due to funding-conditional deadlines stemming from the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, construction on Versailles Park was completed in November. Wednesday marked the first operation day for the water feature.
Wilde said the park is designed to be used year-round.
"It’s a four-season park so there is a great sledding hill for the winter time and the trails are awesome, they go all the way to Lacombe Lake Park,” she said.
Wilde said the park, which is firefighter themed, is the result of "some advocacy and partnership work with Fire Hall #3."
"[The crew at Fire Hall #3] thought it was a really natural fit to build a firefighter [themed park to] really integrate fire services into this community because they are located in Ville Giroux," Wilde said. "They had the idea of water because firefighting and water naturally go together.
"Everything kind of fell into place and so far, one day in, it works pretty well.”
One park-user even arrived at the opening wearing a firefighter costume.
“It should serve this neighbourhood really well for a long time,” said Wilde. “[The] west side of St. Albert is very busy for growth.
"We’re pretty excited and pretty proud of this space — it’s fun to show it off.”
Coun. Mike Killick and Coun. Shelley Biermanski were at the park to celebrate the opening. "It's beautiful; it's a beautiful neighbourhood," Biermanski said in an interview before the ribbon cutting. "Kids are loving it.”
Biermanski, as deputy mayor, gave a speech commending city staff and the park developers, Cidex Group, for their hard work.
The playground was designed and built in less than a year. Wilde said the process usually takes two to three years.
In her speech, Biermanski said she "[looks] forward to the sound of splashing, play, and laughter," for years to come.