A popular children’s wading pool at Winagami Lake Provincial Park between McLennan and High Prairie has been resuscitated after being shut down for four years.
Forestry and Parks Minister Todd Loewen says the pool is planned to open in early August, although no date has been set.
“We look forward to welcome visitors back to the wading pool soon,” says Loewen, MLA for Central Peace – Notley that encompasses the Falher-McLennan area.
“As the MLA for Central Peace – Notley, I have long been a champion for the wading pool.
“I have worked closely with local municipalities and my colleagues to develop a plan to reopen the facility.”
Shortly after he was first appointed minister of forestry, parks and tourism last Oct. 24, he said the pool was a priority for him as minister and local MLA.
Originally opened in the early 1980s, and closed in spring 2019, the pool has been repaired, not replaced.
To upgrade the pool to standards, mechanical and electrical systems were replaced, lines were repaired and flushed, news drainage was installed and the change house, which holds the mechanical room, was refurbished to meet required and safety regulations.
“As minister, I provided direction to explore the reopening in the spring and construction began in June,” Loewen says.
He recognizes the pool is a family favourite for people from all over the Peace region and Alberta.
“We understand the pool’s importance to local residents, as well as residents of neigbhouring communities and tourists visiting the High Prairie and Smoky River regions,” he adds.
The popular pool was closed in spring 2019 because of rising costs in the aging structure.
“The Winagami wading pool has been closed because it’s no longer feasible to maintain the aging infrastructure and repair vandalism,” an announcement stated on the park’s website.
That sparked opposition from local municipalities led by Village of Donnelly Mayor Myrna Lanctot.
“I am thrilled to share that the Winagami Lake wading pool will be reopening this summer,” Lanctot says.
“Since 2019, I have been working on the project and I am grateful for the support the Honourable Minister Todd Loewen and the collaboration of five other municipal leaders in our online meetings.
Those municipal leaders include Big Lakes County Reeve Robert Nygaard, M.D. of Smoky River Reeve Robert Brochu, Town of McLennan Mayor Jason Doris, Town of Falher Mayor Donna Buchinski and Village of Girouxville Mayor Joseph Zdeb.
She says the co-operative spirit proves that issues and projects can move forward.
“This achievement is a testament to our collective efforts and I am excited the positive impact it will have one our communities,” Lanctot says.
She says she reminded Loewen about the pool when she congratulated him when he was first appointed the minister of forestry, parks and tourism.
Lanctot was impressed with the upgraded pool when she visited the site July 27 with the government department responsible for the renovations.
“This was an opportunity to see the fantastic refurbishing work done and discuss Alberta Park’s concerns with finding employees to help to run the wading pool,” Lanctot says.
Alberta Parks plans to open the pool in early August until Sept. 4 if staff can be recruited.
Photos courtesy of Alberta Forestry and Parks!
by Richard Froese