A lady on a morning walk passes by a homeless man lounging near the Centennial Plaza Park spray fountain and wading pool

Centennial Plaza pool drained, cleaned daily

An allegation that Centennial Plaza Park is a spray park by day — “bum bath” by night — does not hold water. The city shuts off and drains the water at 6 p.m. each night. Recently a Kijiji message warned of “filthy homeless” washing themselves and their clothes in the water at the Alexander Way park and using it for a toilet.

An allegation that Centennial Plaza Park is a spray park by day — “bum bath” by night — does not hold water.

The city shuts off and drains the water at 6 p.m. each night.

Recently a Kijiji message warned of “filthy homeless” washing themselves and their clothes in the water at the Alexander Way park and using it for a toilet.

In the message, that spread quickly but has since been removed from online sites, a mother said her friend saw a lot of activity there one night at about 8 or 9 p.m.

After visiting the park with her son and both of them becoming ill, the mother worried it was due to contaminated water.

She said a city worker told her the water is not drained.

But Sarah Cockerill, the city’s director of community services, said the spray fountain and wading pool is in fact drained daily.

“We clean it and we drain it every day. We refill the system around 11 a.m. and noon and we drain it every night at 6 p.m.,” Cockerill said on Wednesday.

She said treated tap water recirculates for the six hours and the site is Alberta Health Services approved.

“We are very diligent to make sure that it’s safe.”

She said city staff did contact the complainant to explain how the spray park is maintained.

As for the vulnerable and homeless population in Red Deer, she said the city and community agencies are working to end homelessness and connect people with local services.

“(There) are some that choose to use our services that are available in the community, and some that choose not to,” Cockerill said.

When it comes to hygiene, showers and laundry equipment are available at Safe Harbour Society. People can also access showers at the Rec Centre for a nominal fee.

Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, executive director of Central Alberta AIDS Network Society, said CAANS’ mobile outreach program NightReach does visit the spray park area once or twice a night.

“We would have heard if this was a bath tub or laundromat. That hasn’t been our experience,” Vanderschaeghe said.

And it would be highly unusual for homeless people to do their wash in a pool during the day with children and parents on site, she said.

“When parents are at a splash park they are aware and vigilant about the other adults that are there. It would be a bad safety choice for homeless people to walk into that fray. The moms and dads would not put up with that,” Vanderschaeghe said.

Red Deer Downtown Business Association also has the Community Clean Team on streets to keep the downtown clean and does check on the spray park.

Executive director Amanda Gould said her association has never received a complaint from spray park users or about problems with people hanging out there at night.

She said the city’s homeless does tend to concentrate downtown which has been an issue for some businesses over the years.

Most recently, homeless activity has increased over the last two weeks, but Gould didn’t know why.

“Between the City of Red Deer and the Community Clean Team and our service and support partners, we’re all very diligent to make sure our public spaces are clean for the use of the public. I think there is hard work going on all over the city that make sure green spaces are something for residents to enjoy,” Cockerill said.

Juanita Otto, who was at Centennial Plaza Park on Wednesday with her children, said they visited regularly this summer and the only place she sees people hanging out is by the nearby McDonald’s.

And the spray park has been empty when she has driven by at night.

“I have never seen anything. Something like that would stand out for me,” Otto said.

Blue Grass Sod Farms Central Spray & Play, the city’s newest spray park at the corner of Rotary Recreation Park, shut down for mechanical repairs on Monday and was expected to reopen on Friday.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Kraay Family corn maze celebrates 20 years

Maze and dozens of other attractions at Kraay Family Farm opens on Friday

Cross-country country music show Thursday night at Red Deer’s Westerner Days

Musians Aaron Goodvin and Jason Benoit perform at the Centrium

Rebalancing Red Deer’s residential growth begins with Hazlett Lake plans

Northwest neighbourhoods to be developed over next decade or two

Study says rents in most cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners

OTTAWA — A minimum-wage worker could afford to rent in just a… Continue reading

Mountain pine beetle makes its way into Ponoka County

Assar Grinde has a special attachment to the pine trees that line… Continue reading

Opinion: Supervised consumption sites can’t be abandoned in Alberta

By Heather Sweet When Jason Luan, the provincial government’s associate minister of… Continue reading

FIFA claims progress in letting women attend games in Iran

ZURICH — FIFA says Iran’s soccer federation supports letting women attend 2022… Continue reading

Diving gold and perfect marks for Chen Yuxi at age 13

GWANGJU, Korea, Republic Of — Thirteen-year-old Chinese diver Chen Yuxi won the… Continue reading

Louvre in Paris removes Sackler name after opioid protests

PARIS — France’s Louvre Museum in Paris has become the first major… Continue reading

Man shouting ‘You die’ kills nearly 30 at Japan anime studio

TOKYO — A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation production… Continue reading

Devers hits solo shot, drives in 4; Red Sox beat Jays 5-4

Red Sox 5 Blue Jays 4 BOSTON — Rafael Devers hit a… Continue reading

Argonauts still looking for first win as they face Stampeders on road

CALGARY — Dave Dickenson warned that the Calgary Stampeders can’t take a… Continue reading

Most Read