It was aquatic insanity on Sunday afternoon in Okanagan Falls when a new spray park was opened to the community.
The spray park opening was part of a larger grand opening for the expansion of Kenyon Park, as well as the town’s Canada Day celebrations.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, absolutely,” said Nikki Allen, whose three children were amongst those enjoying the new park. “We needed more kid things here in OK Falls, and it’s wonderful. The kids love it.
“I think they speak for themselves — the yelling and screaming,” she added.
Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen Director Tom Siddon was also in attendance for the grand opening, even daring to go into the spray-park area and brave the natural dangers of being an adult traversing kid’s territory.
“Look at the kids,” he said, water dripping from his T-shirt after receiving a blast of water from a well-aimed water cannon. “Their parents won’t be able to tear them away from it.”
Siddon described the spray park as “the icing on the cake,” as he sees the fact that the provincial Christie Memorial Park and Kenyon Park, which in the past were separated by private land, are now connecting, creating one large continuous park alongside the south section of the Skaha Lake shoreline.
This expansion represents a near decade-long effort on the part of former RDOS director Bill Schwarz. Schwarz said events were put in motion in 2002 for the park’s expansion when a request was put in to have Christie Memorial Park transferred from the care of the provincial government to Okanagan Falls, a process which is just nearing completion.
The next opportunity came about in 2010, when the developers of a piece of land separating the memorial park and Kenyon Park went under, Schwarz said. A motion was made to the RDOS to purchase the piece of land, and a referendum, which Schwarz described as “hard-fought,” was held to get the permission of the people of Okanagan Falls to purchase the land.
When the final decision was made, Schwarz said the project “just slowly came together,” with the help of the community stepping forward and contributing.
“I think it was a really great example of a community effort,” said Janet Black, recreation co-ordinator with Okanagan Falls parks and recreation. “It was built in large part with a lot of support from volunteers.”