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New water park will feature Indigenous thunderbird spirit artwork

The Awen' water play park will open June 2022

Next summer kids in Collingwood will be able to splash around in a waterfall, jet tunnel, or among some bubblers at Harbourview Park. 

After several years of planning, and what started as a splash pad, the first physical work toward the Awen Water Play park is complete. 

Director of parks, recreation, and culture, Dean Collver, reported during the Corporate and Community Services Standing Committee meeting on June 7, the water and sanitary servicing is complete at the site, and a new parking lot will be built at the site this summer. 

By next summer, the three-stage water play park, inspired by the water cycle, will be spraying, misting, flowing, and splashing. 

David Wood, a consultant with Envision Tatham, has been working with the town on the design of the park, which was inspired by the nearby Awen’ Gathering Circle. 

Dr. Duke Redbird, an Anishinaabe educator, artist, and poet helped the town design the circle and also consulted on the water play design. 

He’s personally creating a thunderbird design to be included on the back of the waterfall feature. 

Wood said the thunderbird, which is the spirit that brings the storms and rains, will be at the head of the water cycle interpretation. 

A sheet of water will flow over the symbol each time the pressure builds and the water is cycled back through. 

The first stage with the water fall is called “big water” and it flows into the “rapids” area where ground jets will form a tunnel of water, and other interactive features will add to the rapids feel. 

The final stage of the water play park will be a tot area called the “brook,” where bubblers and smaller jets will create a shallow, calm water experience. 

“There’s no whirligigs or vertical features,” explained Wood. “We are using jets and misting components intended to surprise and engage children.” 

The park will include a washroom building with outdoor showers and foot washers, as well as a bicycle parking area and picnic tables in a shady spot. 

The park uses a water recycling system with a cistern at the end of the park to collect water, then treat it and cycle it back through the three stages. 

The parking lot will be built this summer and used as a staging area for the rest of the construction which begins in September and pauses for the winter. 

The park will open in June 2022.

The water play area was first proposed for Harbourview Park as a combination splash pad and winter skating loop. The original idea was abandoned due to energy consumption and land constraints. Since 2019, staff have been working with the idea of natural materials and a water play area over the traditional concept of a splash pad. 

The Awen Water Play area will be located at the west end of Harbourview Park near Cedar Street. 

The town’s approved 2021 budget includes $1.55 million for the water play park. About $1.4 million of the cost is funded through development charges and the rest is coming from reserve funds. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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