As summer heats up, the taps have been turned off at two popular Vancouver splash pads.
According to the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, the CRAB Park splash pad at Portside is temporarily closed for electrical upgrades that have been delayed by global supply chain challenges.
The Lumberman’s Arch Spray Park in Stanley Park, meanwhile, has yet to open at all.
“The pad drains chlorinated drinking water directly to the sea and is in violation of the Federal Fisheries Act, as potable water can be toxic to fish,” reads a park board statement explaining the closure.
“As a result, the federal government asked for the spray pad to be closed until this was remediated.”
In an interview, park board commissioner John Coupar said the board has received “lots of calls” from families disappointed by the closures. He also called the federal government’s assertion that drinking water can be harmful to fish “quite remarkable.”
“I think it’s people just getting overly careful and depriving kids of a couple of months of water running into the bay,” the mayoral candidate told Global News.
“It’s not that much water. I think we need to bring the fun back to Vancouver.”
Learning lessons from last year’s heat dome
Both Coupar and Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung raised the importance of splash pads as a free and accessible activity in an expensive city.
“As we’re seeing increasing climate issues and higher heat domes, people do need to stay cool,” Kirby-Yung added.
Had the closures been better-communicated to the public, some parental frustration might have been avoided, she said.
The Vancouver Park Board said its staff have come up with a temporary solution to fix the environmental issue at the Lumberman’s Arch Spray Park and it will reopen later this week.
No date was provided for reopening the CRAB Park splash pad.
In order to comply with a city bylaw and the Metro Vancouver Drinking Water Conservation Plan, the board also said it has shut down several non-recirculating water features, like aesthetic water fountains, “that use millions of litres of treated drinking water every year.”
“We are currently evaluating possibilities to retrofit these fountains to use less water in the future,” wrote park board communications specialist Andrew Burns.
A list of Vancouver’s 12 other open splash pads is available on its website.
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