Greater Sudbury, Ontario
Latlng: (46.56638, -81.184444)
|Created||Jan 01 2006|
|Category||House Or Farm|
|City||Greater Sudbury, Ontario|
It was the year 2001 and Claude Lachance had a splashing idea. He was going to construct a water-slide park for the citizens of the Greater Sudbury area. Lachance envisioned children laughing as they slid down one of four water slides while infants could wade in a small pool housed within a life-sized wooden boat. The park would be an attraction for residents from across the Sudbury area seeking relief from the summer temperatures.
The community and city both rallied behind Claude’s idea for a water park – not only unique to the area but surely creating local jobs too.
Today Splash North sits abandoned, home now only to nests of birds. The only other visitors are youths intent on vandalizing the property.
The park never did see the light of day. So what went wrong?
Splash North was designed by Ed Meyers of Ed Meyers Entertainment in New York (edmeyers.com).
In the fall of 2001, excavation began on property located along Highway 144 in Chelmsford. By the following year construction had commenced on Splash North. Fencing was erected, at a cost of $19,000, to enclose and protect the site. When the original fenced area was unable to accommodate all of the necessary construction equipment, the fence was widened.
Lachance spent $17,000 for the construction of hydro lines to the park. The new unused poles can be found next to the old Harvey’s building, the power lines terminating before they reach the park.
Three storage sheds were constructed. Underground piping and wiring was installed. An electrical shed containing all of the necessary relays and electrical panels was constructed next to the fence. A mobile trailer would serve as the office.
Previously used water slides were imported from the United States while steel and cement was brought in locally. Cement trucks waited to lay down the foundations for the structures and containment pools. Some of the cement foundations were sunk to depths of 9 feet to prevent shifting. Gunite was laid down, adding another $50,000 to the tab.
Bell Canada installed pay telephone booths, anticipating damp youths calling for rides home.
A magnificent wooden bridge was built to carry attendees over a small lake to the water slide. The cost of the bridge itself was $45,000 and another $17,000 for the steel used to support it.
A large wooden boat was constructed that contained a small wading pool for infants. When the boat was completed, water would sprinkle down from its masts. While painting of the boat was in progress, the painter ended up getting paint on employee’s cars. Lachance was dinged with that cost as well.
With the cost of labour at an estimated $12,000 per week, the price tag of the water park was quickly adding up.
Due to the water park being located in proximity to a major highway, Lachance had to first purchase a $285 Building Land Use Permit from the Ministry of Transportation.
Issuing such a permit called for the site-plans and Stormwater Management reports to be submitted. An Illumination Plan was also required to ensure that the park would not interfere with motorists traveling along the highway. Lachance complied with these requests.
The final required piece of information required before receiving the permit was a Traffic Impact Study.
This is where the problems arose.
Lachance paid $2400 for a traffic survey to be completed. The survey found that most of the traffic along highway 144 flowed in a southerly direction as most of Greater Sudbury’s attractions are south of Chelmsford. Due to the water park being situated on the western side of the highway, motorists exiting the park would not be imposing on the flow of traffic. Families would have to wait to shower and dry off, thus there would not be a mass exiting of vehicles onto the highway.
The MTO however disagreed with the survey results. On May 28th of 2003 Lachance received a phone call that he would not permitted to open his water park unless a traffic light was installed. The cost? $86,000.
Lachance obtained and submitted a letter of credit valued at $100,000 in an effort to finance the light. However the light would not be installed in time for the 2003 summer season. Lachance closed his water park for the season while ensuring that it was still maintained.
In 2004 a large meeting was held with the city and politician Paul Marleau. A third lane would be needed to allow traffic to Belanger Motors. The cost would be $657,000. Claude chipped in one third of that cost.
The park’s infrastructure was completed and the park fully operational but no more financing was available. By this time Lachance had now spent $100,000 in steel alone and $1,600,000 in total costs for the park. He had gone above and beyond what he had ever expected to pay for.
The issue over the traffic light remained at a stalemate. It would not be until June 14 of 2006 that Sudbury city council decided to give the green light to construction of a traffic light. The construction of a traffic light would allow further business construction in the area.
By this time however Claude Lachance had thrown in the towel on the water park. He had jumped over one too many hurdles and had depleted the money he was willing to spend. In addition there were now further costs now associated with reopening of the park due to vandals.
The years from 2004 until 2007 have not been kind to the water park. One evening thieves cut a hole in the fence and made off with $12,000 worth of steel piping. Wiring has been stripped from the underground junction points. The roofs of the three storage sheds have been vandalized and one of the sheds broken into.
A large portion of the steel water slide had been hanging by a rope, never having been completely fastened. Vandals sent the huge steel piece sliding down the water slide and crashing into the cement pool below.
Graffiti litters the cement. Portions of the cement originally laid improperly are now cracked. The owner has found broken bottles and even a sledgehammer on the property – the product of idiotic youths with nothing constructive to do.
The water park could certainly be brought back to life. A southern investor has proposed spending $5,000,000 to enclose the area under a dome for year-round use. Other offers have been made on the property. I did not want to mix business with pleasure and didn’t get into the business aspect of things.
Thank you to Claude Lachance for sharing his story and allowing access to the site.
Latlng: (46.56638, -81.184444)
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