Pushback to Aqua City in Erieau
By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Two locations for a proposed inflatable water park are being floated in South Kent.
At a press conference held in Erieau Tuesday, the C.M. Wilson Conservation Area near Chatham was put forward as an alternative choice for Aqua City if the Erieau Beach site doesn’t meet approvals.
“Erieau is my preferred choice,” Aqua City owner/operator Sam Tudorica told the gathering, but when it comes to the project’s overall “safety and accessibility” aspects, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority location is “a preferred choice.”
Earlier in May, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent announced the park would be coming to Erieau Beach, but that was before approvals were fully explored.
South Kent Coun. Ryan Doyle said Tuesday’s media briefing was held to provide more details about the project, as the initial announcement was “rather quick.”
According to Doyle, it’s unclear if Aqua City will go forward at the Erieau or C.M. Wilson, with the final decision resting with the owners, pending government rules.
“Because we did get a little bit of pushback in Erieau, it didn’t look like we had any other options,” Doyle explained, but then someone brought the C.M. Wilson idea to light.
However, Doyle said there is support for putting the amenity at Erieau.
“It’s definitely not a one-sided argument,” Doyle explained. “Everyone has got their opinion.”
Plus, he noted, if you go outside Erieau “a lot of people want this.”
The water park, consisting of slides, trampolines and obstacle courses, needs at least nine feet of water to be operational. It has capacity for 60 people, and those using the amenity must be 18 or older. Participants must sign a waiver.
Younger participants, aged 10 to 17 years, would need signed permission from a parent or guardian.
Outside of operational hours, security and video surveillance will be ongoing.
Aqua City could also be rented out for private occasions, Tudorica said.
Proposed hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with four lifeguards onsite at full capacity.
“The season is potentially going to start in mid-June until the end of August or first week of September, weather permitting,” Tudorica said, adding she’s been working with stakeholders and all levels of government to see which “hoops we need to go through.”
Several questions about the project were answered at the meeting. It was learned the water on the bay side of Erieau is too shallow to locate Aqua City there safely and that Mitchell’s Bay is also too shallow.
If Erieau Beach is a go, the water park would be located at the at an area adjacent to the pier near the baseball diamond, held in place by 1,000-pound cement anchors. It would be between 100 and 150 feet offshore.
If located at Erieau, Tudorica said there would be a constant monitoring of weather and wave action, adding Aqua City would be placed where the undertow wouldn’t be an issue.
Tudorica said she got the idea of bringing Aqua City to the region after going to similar park in Barrie four years ago.
“Why don’t we have one?” Tudorica asked, noting she’s done her research on the issue. “I kind of just jumped on it.”
Tudorica said she networks with other inflatable water park owners in the province and is connected on the issues.
In the meantime, the LTVCA is conducting water quality testing at the C.M. Wilson pond to ensure it’s safe for swimmers. A nod from the LTVCA board of directors is the only approval needed to proceed at the site.
Aqua City will be on the agenda when council meets May 29.