Some Changes Coming to the Celebration Square Water Feature in Mississauga

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Although this week got off to a chilly start, the warm weather is coming and that means that children (and adults) will be able to splash around in Mississauga's spacious Celebration Square water fountain sooner rather than later.

But this year, they might notice some small differences, courtesy of changes at the provincial level.

According to a City of Mississauga corporate report, the off-peak season operating hours for the water fountain will be changing. The city will also have staff members monitor the water feature, as it's now classified as a wading pool instead of a splash pad.

For those who are unaware, the vast water feature is similar to a spray pad and is open from April to October and functions as a decorative fountain. When the weather is warm, it's most often used as a cooling spray pad for residents.

The city says the water fountain was designed as an interactive water feature and based on the design was not subject to previous legislative requirements for wading pools.

Prior to July 1, 2018, wading pools and spray pads were governed by the provincial "Operating Procedures for Non-Regulated Recreational Water Facilities Guidance Document." Under the construction guidelines, a minimum water depth of at least 15 cm was required to be considered a wading pool (if less than 15 cm in depth, it could be treated as a splash pad).

For that reason, Celebration Square was classified as a splash pad by the Region of Peel Health Services. The city says the water depth is not deeper than 15 cm at any point and is a sloped entry where the maximum water depth at the drain is approximately 7.5 cm (3 inches).

On July 1, 2018, changes to the Public Pool Regulation were enacted, and the changes included regulating wading pools and splash pads.

Now, without a minimum water depth noted, Celebration Square is classified as a public wading pool. That means that the city has to provide supervision for all hours of operation, provide first aid support and supplies and implement emergency communication devices during operation.

If there is no supervision, the city would be required to drain the fountain or provide a locked enclosure to prevent the public from entering the water.

"Peel Health Services confirmed that they had sought clarity from the province and due to the standing water, the fountain would be classified as a wading pool and indicated they would be providing additional education and a timeline to comply with the regulations," the document reads.

"We have received official notification that the Region of Peel will be enforcing compliance of the regulatory changes effective this operating season."

The city says compliance with the legislation will require the municipality's community services department to hire attendants to provide supervision of the water feature for all hours of operation.

Attendants are required to ensure that all visitors are using the water feature as intended, monitor for safety issues, provide first aid and ensure that parents are supervising their children in the water.

How much will this cost? According to the report, the city will incur costs for staff and supplies totalling approximately $122,500 annually. The majority of these costs are for staffing attendants for the operational period of the water feature (approximately $118,000).

Costs for the 2019 season will be accommodated for in the 2019 Parks & Forestry operating budget.

The hours will also change.

Previously, the water feature operated seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. from mid-April through Thanksgiving weekend. Now, off-peak season (April to mid-May, after Labour Day-end of Thanksgiving weekend) hours will be 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

During peak season (mid-May through Labour Day weekend), the feature will be open from 8:00 am to 11:00 p.m.—no change from previous years.

Since Celebration Square was opened in 2011, there have been no reported incidents of water-related injuries or near drownings.

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