Wild Rapids Waterslide Park will turn the water off at the end of 2016. Once demolished, the land will be redeveloped by the town who has purchased the land.
The purchase was for $4,995,000 was for 3.5 acres of land plus another 1.5 acres which is included in an existing license of occupation with the Province of Alberta. The purchase does not include the water slide structure which will be demolished by the owner following the 2016 summer season.
Wild Rapids General Manager Charlie Everest said that this “difficult choice” came entirely from the touch economics of running a 34-year-old water park.
“Every year, we strive to make it a safe fun-family place,” he said “But the last couple years has shown that essentially every aspect of the water park – including the circulatory systems and heating systems – need to be replaced.
“Essentially it is 34 years old and to keep it safe and upgraded to the potential the owner would like it – it would require millions of dollars of investment.”
The park is currently up to code for the 2016 season is diligently checked by both staff and the David Thompson Health region.
Everest, who has lived in Sylvan Lake for 15 years and has managed the water park for 13 years understands that this is a difficult transition for Central Albertans.
“It has been a destination for Central Albertans and from people in Calgary and Edmonton for decades,” he said. “We didn’t take that lightly, but unfortunately outdoor water parks in Canada, with only a two-month season, are not economically viable.”
He added that to stay open, the cost of maintenance would eventually fall down to the customer which wouldn’t be viable financially for a young family.
The decision to close Wild Rapids came after a nearly four-year attempt to sell the park to new operators to keep the slides flowing, however “interest in buying the old girl” was not there.
The park will remain open for the rest of the 2016, which is good news for the people who have been coming to the park since it opened.
“There are a lot of people who went to this park when they were seven years old and not they have grandkids,” Everest said. “We will have our ‘last-year’ fun days.”
Luckily for Lakers, the land will not sit idle for long.
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” Everest said. “After the slides come down – the town will do a good job with the beautification process.”
Sean McIntyre was thrilled for the prospect of this land in media release from the Town of Sylvan Lake.
“This is a unique and tremendously important parcel of land,” he said. “We’ve heard time and time again that public access to water is a priority for our residents and that added public space along our lake is needed.
“For the town to stake a claim to prime lakeshore property, we’re opening up a world of possibilities for our community.”
The media release stated that there is no current plan for the property and that development will not begin until extensive public consultations have taken place, however room for public recreation space will be included.
Everest added that the Water Park has been a “huge part of this community” and has been a “cornerstone of Sylvan Lake for decades.”