Posted: Nov 21, 2008, 5:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Aylmer, Québec
Water park construction slips behind schedule
By Peter Kovessy, Ottawa Business Journal Staff
Mon, Nov 17, 2008 12:00 AM EST
The future site of the Calypso water park in Limoges. (File photo by Etienne Ranger)
Firms behind Alottawata, Calypso Park still looking to tender significant number of subcontracts
It appears Ottawa-area residents will have to wait a little longer than expected to cool off in the two water parks under construction in the National Capital Region.
Alottawata Park, being built off Highway 416 south of Barrhaven and originally scheduled for a summer 2009 opening, has pushed back its opening date to 2010. This year's heavy rainfalls convinced builders to do more extensive re-grading than originally planned, using crushed concrete and aggregate.
Likewise, the $50-million Calypso Park in Limoges, roughly half an hour east of Ottawa, is almost two months behind schedule. The Quebec-based company building that park remains optimistic this winter's snowfall will arrive late enough for work crews to get back on schedule for a 2009 opening.
But officials say they'll evaluate their progress and decide on an opening date this December.
"Hopefully we're going to be able to give (an opening) date (for) next summer ... That's our goal," says Ginette Robert, vice-president of sales and marketing at Village Vacances Valcartier, which also operates a family theme and water park outside Quebec City.
Ms. Robert says there are currently about 100 workers on the site just off Highway 417, which now sports metal frames for its tallest slides stretching roughly 80 feet in the air. About half its slides have been delivered, some of which are already in place, and the foundations for the wave pool and service buildings have been laid.
Meanwhile, most of the concrete at Alottawata Park will be poured next spring, says Rick Hunter, president of ProSlide Technologies, a firm which also designs and develops water rides to parks around the world and owns Mont Cascades Waterpark north of Gatineau.
"We had to do more re-grading than we originally planned on doing ... (Pushing back the opening date) just made sense. We would have had to have been building through the winter and it was just going to be too tight," says Mr. Hunter.
He says his company is beginning discussions with local contractors to do "significant foundation work" for the wave pool, lazy river, rides, towers and other buildings at the site.
Village Vacances Valcartier also has a significant number of contracts that need to be awarded to build the park's river and equip its restaurants, among other projects. Most contracts have so far been awarded to contractors in Ottawa, Gatineau and Prescott-Russell, says Ms. Robert.
Mr. Hunter says he is building Alottawata "for the long term" and that there's no race to complete his park ahead of Calypso. He has also previously downplayed suggestions of rivalry between the two parks as well as questions of whether the market is large enough to support the two new facilities along with Ottawa's current water park of choice, Mont Cascades.
Earlier this year, however, both Mr. Hunter and opposition politicians questioned the fairness of a $2-million provincial grant given to Calypso out of a rural economic development fund, given that the parks are expected to compete against each other and that Alottawata is financed with private dollars.
And while the poor economic climate is expected to cause consumers to cut back on discretionary spending, Mr. Hunter says regional water and theme parks are, for the most part, "recession-proof."
Noting ProSlide supplied all the major rides to Siam Park in the Canary Islands, which just opened in September, and is working on new parks in Greece, Malaysia and the United States, Mr. Hunter says his industry remains confident that consumers will continue to open their wallets to visit water parks.
"People will still buy food, they'll go to the theatre and, generally, they will go to the day park ... "They won't necessarily get in an airplane as much, but they will drive."