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What's Going Up: Construction underway on Newmarket's first accessible splash pad

COVID delayed summer 2020 opening, but town hopeful new amenity will welcome guests by spring 2021
20200914 dr margaret akinstall park splash pad
Dr. Margaret Arkinstall Park accessible splash pad is on track for a spring 2021 opening. Greg King for NewmarketToday

What's Going Up is a regular NewmarketToday series highlighting growth and development that is proposed and ongoing in town.


Construction of Newmarket’s first fully accessible $1.4-million splash pad at Dr. Margaret Arkinstall Park in the Sawmill Valley Drive and Summerhill South neighbourhood is in full swing.

Although the anticipated summer 2020 opening date was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the town is hopeful to have construction completed by the end of this year, subject to weather conditions, successful delivery and installation of the splash pad equipment, and safety and operation inspections.

The new anticipated opening date is spring 2021.

“It is exciting that even through COVID-19 we were able to keep the Dr. Margaret Arkinstall Splash Pad project moving forward,” Mayor John Taylor said. “I want to personally congratulate Councillor Kelly Broome on her perseverance and commitment to this project, which would never have occurred without her work and commitment to bring this great new feature to the residents of her ward.”

Work on the harvest-themed splash pad began in February 2020 and will offer the community a recreational amenity complete with a soft water play surface, spray equipment with associated mechanical/electrical/drainage requirements, as well as shade sails, site furniture, connecting pathways, and a picnic area surrounded by soft landscaping.

Other features include:

  • Half of a giant strawberry with waterfall spray
  • Apple carousel with touch activators and sprayers
  • Two root vegetables
  • Two carrots (one spinning)
  • Barn gate with water wall
  • Ground-level pea pods with individual activator and sprayers
  • Ground sprayers
  • Hay bale (accessible water play wall) and ground river with water manipulation toys and hand pump

The town’s capital projects park development coordinator Michael Ashworth said that the work left to be done includes installing the splash pad equipment, mechanical work such as piping connections, pump valves, feature control box, putting up the building to house the mechanical aspects of the project, and electrical work.

“The manufacturer of the splash pad equipment was and continues to be greatly impacted by COVID-19,” Ashworth said. “Equipment delivery is hopeful for year’s end, subject to weather and no further impact from COVID-19.”

The accessible splash pad will offer more than a dozen different features, including a water maze with hand-pumped activators that children will have to work to start the water flowing, before taking off on a racetrack of sorts to find and activate the next water feature, shaped like blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. That all leads to the reward at the end, which is a giant waterfall.

“The whole park is accessible, the apple carousel is wide enough for wheelchairs, all surfaces are non-slip, and there’s wayfinding for all different impairments, such as sounds effects for the visually impaired,” Broome told NewmarketToday at the 2019 public information meeting.

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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