EZT officially opens Tavistock Spray Pad

East Zorra-Tavistock’s first-ever aquatic facility opened to much fanfare last week.

About two dozen elected officials and dignitaries were on hand at Queen’s Park May 17 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The idea was first floated by residents Danny and Haley Roth back in 2019 but was delayed for several reasons including the pandemic. The couple played a major role in the spray pad’s completion.

“It’s great to see people and the province working together to make projects like this one come to life in our communities,” said Ernie Hardeman, Oxford MPP. “This wonderful spray pad certainly meets the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s (OTF) mission to foster more active lifestyles and bring people together.”

The aquatic attraction was made possible through a $150,000 capital grant from the foundation and over $100,000 in community fundraising efforts. Hardeman said writing a successful application is crucial when it comes to receiving Trillium funding.

“More applications are being made than there is money to fund each year. The best application is the one that explains to the volunteer board what benefits will be derived from the project to build a vibrant community.”

The township said the project will offer a unique, inclusive and accessible play area that expands the community’s outdoor-recreation options. Spray pads are non-slip, aquatic play areas with no standing water that instead feature water sprinklers, sprayers, nozzles and games that are motion activated or on limited-run times.

“The residents, staff and council of the township are grateful for the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation in helping to make the new Tavistock Spray Pad a reality," said mayor Phil Schaefer. "Their support, along with local businesses and residents, will ensure families have an additional facility for enjoyment and fun activity without having to leave the township."

Schaefer thanked all the donors, staff and council members for working together to bring the project to life.

“Together, we did accomplish something that I think was sorrily lacking from our recreation supply. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Danny and Haley Roth, our fundraising chairs. Their vision and hard work have made this a reality for the township. Thank you.”

Schaefer added while he’s excited about the spray pad, he isn’t nearly as excited as Lincoln, his three-year-old grandson.

One of the local businesses to support the project financially was Saputo, which pledged $35,000. Tavistock plant manager Derek Lockhart said the promotion of a healthy lifestyle is the core of the company’s civic engagement.

“We are committed to making meaningful contributions to the communities where our employees live, work and play. As a part of this commitment, we invested in improving the quality of sports facilities with the objective of building a lasting legacy,” he added.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Ontario government with a mission to build healthy communities across the province. Last year, OTF invested more than $110 million into 1,044 community projects and multi-sector partnerships. Projects aim to enhance economic wellbeing, foster more active lifestyles, support child and youth development, provide spaces for people to come together and connect, and create a more sustainable environment.

Hundreds of area residents were able to cool off at the spray pad over a hot and sunny Victoria Day long weekend.

Lee Griffi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wilmot-Tavistock Gazette