The construction of a splash park at the cost of $230,000 is scheduled for this year, 2011. To my knowledge there was no public input concerning a splash park other than mentioned in the Minutes of a Special Meeting of Council (Public Consultation on the 2010-2014 Financial Plan held on April 19, 2010. Several questions arise. First, why does Fernie need a splash park when we have approximately no more than 70 to 90 frost free days a year?
More important, why is the City funding a splash park when more streets and water systems need to be done and other infrastructure repair like the Community Centre need to be funded?
The Minutes include a Water Smart Program as a one time operating expenditure over the next five years. What is the cost of this? How is a splash park fitting into the Water Smart Program? It seems council speaks of conserving water with water meters then increases water consumption with a splash park operating at best five weeks in the summer. It is a time when most residents and tourists splash in area lakes. Splash parks similar to all city amenities cost money annually. They do not support themselves much less pay for operating costs.
Next, there are water user fees. Water Connection and User Charge Amendment Bylaw No. 9, 2007 includes “increases of 10 per cent in 2010 and 2011 and a five per cent increase in 2012.”
Then on top of this there is the Water Metering Implementation for $1,350,000 scheduled for 2014.
These decisions are of interest to the public, the citizens of Fernie who are going to have to pay for them, and there needs to be considered public input before the council goes ahead with them.