As Canberra heads towards another week of soaring temperatures, the Canberra Liberals say that the national capital should splash out on a free outdoor water park or two that would provide cooling relief and family fun during our increasingly sizzling summers.
The parks – in all shapes, sizes and designs – have popped up across the country in recent years, built and run by city and town councils as part of the public amenity. But Canberra, strangely, seems to be the odd one out, given the latest climate report.
There are dozens of them across Sydney, with 14 in western Sydney alone, and a 15th due to open in February. The Liberals are also pointing to Brisbane and country centres such as Bendigo, Mildura and Hervey Bay.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe has visited many with his children. He says there would be many people in Canberra who have travelled interstate or come from interstate, who also would have given their family a fun respite from the heat at a splash park.
He says a water park could be had for about $500,000, which in a budget of $7 billion is ‘doable’.
“A lot of councils have budgeted about 500,000 for splash parks so I think it’s a pretty reasonable investment,” he said. “It’s not prohibitive, it just needs a bit of willpower.”
It’s likely the Liberals will take the proposal into the Assembly this year but at this point, they are sounding out Canberrans on the idea and where they would like to see one, or several.
Mr Coe says a water or splash park could be located in the city centre, Glebe Park, West Basin or on national land around Commonwealth Park, or alternatively in one of the town centres.
Better still in several locations, he says.
Mr Coe says there are many different designs, ranging from shallow paddling pools to play spaces with fountains, jets and slides, and suggests a design competition to select the most appropriate one for Canberra.
“Hopefully you have it in a way that every few years you’re able to mix up the modules and refresh it,” he says.
Pools can be more problematic, but many just have fountains and water immediately drains away to be recycled so there aren’t any safety issues, such as the one at Glenelg in Adelaide.
Mr Coe says that during the winter, the water would be turned off but the park would still provide a play space.
“You just wouldn’t have water going throughout but have other play equipment for kids and families. It’s the same for facilities around the country – outdoor pools only get used for a few months of the year,” he said.
“I think it would get used heavily from October to March, and then depending on how adaptable it is, potentially used in winter as well.”
The Government is currently conducting consultation for the design of three nature play spaces but Mr Coe does not see the water park idea being incorporated.
“It’s a pretty simple proposal that dozens of cities and councils around Australia have already put in place. We don’t need to over-complicate it,” he said. “All over the country they’re very popular, and if they’re designed well they’re relaxing not just for the kids but for the parents and friends while the kids are playing.”
Could Canberra benefit from a water or splash park? Where do you think one should be built?