Drastic moves are possible for the city’s money losing downtown waterpark, known to some as Adventure Bay and to a growing legion of beleaguered taxpayers as Misadventure Bay. Apparently, the city, reported to the CBC, February 4, might right now be putting a plan in place to reduce the park’s operating hours as soon as March’s spring break ends.
While the potential cost-cutting measure might help compensate for the park’s continuing declining popularity, it will mean its fixed expenses will now have to be amortized over fewer opening hours.
Currently, the park’s doors are unlocked for early bird hours only on Monday and Friday mornings. It is open from late afternoon to early evening on most weekdays, although is totally shuttered on Wednesdays.
Michael Chantler, assistant manager, confided to the CBC, that “… the park is not as busy now as it was when it opened and users can ‘totally expect’ the park to be open less often during the week. ‘When something’s brand new everybody wants a piece of the action,’ he said. ‘It is a little less busy than when it first opened.’”
Those opening days were more than glorious.
The hopes of the park turning the city around and helping to revitalize the dwindling fortunes of the downtown were in the air on January 17, 2014, when the broadcaster quoted the city’s then failed mayor, Eddie Francis. He was caught bragging about it having, “… many attractions that I think will have great appeal to people of all age groups. So we were very careful in the planning of the facility to make sure it was a family attraction.”
Apparently all the planning didn’t work out for families.
The broadcaster talked with parent Besmallahsow Rali and found out, “… the aquatic centre for him and for many in his neighbourhood is too expensive.”
It was also curious to see Francis use the term, “think.” It questioned his ability, as a tourism impresario or even a property developer.
The startling reality is the park was planned and built without any real thinking at all.
Unbelievable, in a Ripley’s sort of way, it was all done without a market study. This did nothing but cement the reputation Francis was earning for half-bakery.
Former city councillor Alan Halberstadt, writing in the February 2012 issue of Biz X Magazine, opined about the, “… lack of an independent market study as the most glaring oversight leading up to the rushed decision to spend $78.1 million to build a downtown aquatics centre.”
The reason the Olympic pool side of the building failed is well-known. The city opened its new competitive pool at a time Toronto had taken its revered Etobicoke Olympian out of service for a complete update, and before two new pools for the Pan Am Games were opened.
Now, with all three open to rave reviews, Windsor’s pool is no longer as busy and probably never will be.
Proceeding with the big build in Windsor, with three competing pools being added in the most populous area of the province, was certainly nothing if not foolhardy for Francis, even if what has been revealed can politely be termed as hindsight.
But, Francis did not have to work in the dark or just think things up. To Halberstadt, spending a $100,000 on a market study would have been most enlightening, particularly after, “… $1 million was set aside to pay Lawyers and Consultants to navigate City Hall through the bidding and design build process.”
At the same time as the water park’s managers plan to reduce hours, they are also looking for a third, most likely gullible, party to take over operations of its concession stand. It, too, is not doing well.
While the real damage of Windsor’s costly downtown misadventure is it becoming a burden for taxpayers, Francis does not get off lightly. As the pool and waterpark decline in popularity, so too does his tarnished legacy.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.