FORT FRANCES — The Make a Big Splash Spray Park in Fort Frances topped the voting list in this year’s Tbaytel For Good Community Fund contest.
According to Tbaytel, 160,264 votes were cast for the splash pad project, out of a total of 486,079 which were cast from Oct. 6 to 18.
The top three entries each receive $10,000 for their projects. The other two winners were the Northern Reach Rescue Network and the DEK Foundation – Backpacks for Hope project.
“It’s amazing to be in the top three, let alone to be the top one, is spectacular,” said Travis Rob, the spokesperson for the group, who is also the manager of operations and facilities for the Town of Fort Frances.
“We were a bit reluctant to even apply to Tbaytel for Good because we weren’t sure if we could get the votes,” he said. “And then to have that sort of a response, it’s hard to describe for all of us in terms of what the feeling we all have.”
“The community absolutely came out to support us, to support our project, we’re just absolutely floored by the response,” he said.
Rob said the group is made up of community members who want to bring the first spray park to Fort Frances.
“We’ve got a great group of people that’s dedicated and focused to make this thing a reality.”
A spray park at Legion Park on Lillie Avenue was approved by town council, according to the group.
Rob said the award from Tbaytel, and a substantial donation from Farm Boy Real Estate, means they have raised over a quarter of the $396,000 needed to build the splash pad.
“We’re applying for other grant opportunities. We’re starting some fundraising activities. So everything is rolling out at the same time, which is great. Because it gets the momentum going,” he said. “We still have quite a ways to go yet, but [we’re] very optimistic.”
Rob said this could be a spring board for something more spectacular for the park.
“We do have our eye on a much bigger project here than just a splash pad, but it’s going to depend on what we can get for other grant funding,” Rob said. “If the stars all align and we can get our hands on the funding that we need, we’re looking at a full park rehab: New playground equipment, new features, obviously the splash pad, making it a full well-rounded project.”
Rob said he says the committee hopes to have funding in place for a spring groundbreaking. He added if everything comes together, the spray park could be ready for the end of next summer.
Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source