While summer weather has been a mixed bag this year, it is the first full season for one of Cochrane’s newest warm weather amenities: the splash pad at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
A place for the kiddos to cool off in a family-friendly and safe environment was on the wish list of many community families while the sports centre expansion was underway.
During that process, the splash pad was on and off the table until funding was secured despite the rising cost of the facility.
While the splash pad was initially met with raves from the community, as its final details emerged spirits were dampened as people realized access to the splash park would be limited.
Unlike most communities, Cochrane’s splash pad is pay-to-use and for a family of four that means forking over $20, which a parent on social media summed up best by saying it is cheaper to drive to Airdrie.
Not to mention going to the park requires going through the sports centre, which is a bit inconvenient if the only reason a family is there is for the splash pad.
Another mark against the splash pad is location. The sports centre is a tremendous facility that Cochrane is lucky to have, but it is not conveniently located. Walking to the facility is difficult as it is not close to many residential areas, which means a vehicle or taxi fare is required. The design of the park also eliminates the potential social component that might be an incentive to bringing the kids for a splash.
Another social media commenter described the splash park as an after thought in the sports centre expansion and we can’t help but agree.
The design and placement were never ideal, which makes the pay to use model even more untenable.
The town should have spent the $250,000 (for sprayers alone) on a splash park in a more central location and created a family-friendly space conducive to families spending the day splashing, picnicking and socializing. It should also be free to use, or if a fee was required it should be a nominal $5 for a family.
Splash parks are the kind of places that should be accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, Cochrane’s splash park has an elitist air as it is accessible to only those who can afford the cost of admission.