By Charlie Senack
Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod confirmed Friday afternoon that splash pads in the province will receive the green light to open at 12:01 am on Saturday, May 22, 2021. She said in a tweet: “Recognizing that splash/spray pads, like other outdoor recreational amenities, can be safely enjoyed, we have amended the regulation to align splash pads/spray pads with other outdoor recreational amenities.”
Mayor Jim Watson later said 137 of the 145 splash pads in the city would be open by Friday evening. The remaining eight would then open in the coming days after receiving maintenance and fixing any damage.
Splash pads in the City of Ottawa turn on automatically at 8 am and remain operational until 9:00 pm.
The decision came after much public backlash on the governments decision to keep splash pads across the province closed.
When asked about the controversy during a funding announcement which will put $4 million into 54 cultural attractions this summer, MacLeod says discussions have been had and to “stay tuned.”
“This is something I heard loud and clear from my constituents and from my neighbours, and is something that cabinet understands is important,” she said. “The work is ongoing with the experts — I hope to have this resolved — and I feel very optimistic that this weekend will be a great one for kids in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario.”
Splash pads in Ottawa started to open earlier this week, but yesterday the city received work from the province that they had to remain closed until Ontario enters phase one in its three-part recovery plan. That isn’t expected to be until June 14 at thr earliest.
Mayor Jim Watson called on the province to reverse its decision, with temperatures exceeding over 39 degrees Celsius in the capital with the humidex. By the next morning, other big city mayors from Ontario joined the movement.
“Doug Ford, please reconsider your decision to not allow splash-pads to open at the same time as other outdoor activities like golf and basketball,” said Watson on Twitter Thursday evening. “It’s going to be over 30 degrees this long weekend. Please retweet and email your MPP.”
By the next morning, Mayors for the City of Brampton, Mississauga, and Brampton, among others, joined Watson’s plea.
Capital ward City Councillor Shawn Menard tweeted out Friday afternoon that one third of the city’s splash pads remained open, and that all should be open by end of day.