Wipe Out: Kelowna to get watery obstacle course this summer

Every Kelowna old-timer knows that waters off City Park used to be bustling with activity in the era of the Aquatic.

Now a new generation will soon get their fill of the same kind of excitement, only with a modern twist.

A company called Kelowna Wibut entered a three year agreement with the city Monday allowing it to lease a portion of the lake for a floating aquatic park. And if all goes according to plan, it should be up and running as early as the first weekend in July.

John Saufferer, with the city's property management branch, told council during their regular meeting that the course is non-motorized, and consists of a series of inflatable, interlocking pieces that will take up a 30 by 40 metre space on the lake.

It's similar to something from the  game show Wipe Out, he explained, noting that as seen on that program, the aqua park's users will get on the floating obstacle course, and do what they can to stay on it.

It was an idea well received by council.

"People climb up, maybe fall down? I think it's a great idea. I really like it," said Coun. Robert Hobson, Monday after the proposal was floated out.

Other than the chill of the water in that particular spot, Hobson said that he couldn't see any downside to the project, as it's non-motorized and can easily be removed when the time comes.

Coun. Colin Basran said he liked the fact that the aquatic park would fill the gap left by Flintstone Park or the watersides.

Like the latter of those attractions, the aqua-park is really geared toward those between the ages of 10 and 20, although it's a bit pricier.

The cost is pegged at $25 per person for a days worth of splashing about.

The aqua park will also be the first of its kind in Western Canada, although Harrison has something very similar.

It may be a novelty, but Coun. Luke Stack pointed out that there are parallels to a what preceded it a generation ago.

"What I couldn't help but notice is that it's right next to former Aquatic… It's a 21st Century aquatic playground where we used to have the old one," he said.

Turning from nostalgia to budgetary matters, he pointed out that he bonus is that there's no tax-payer kick-in.

Kelowna Wibut will foot the bill for it all.

It's expected to bring in 3,000 to 6,000 annual visitors, as well as 12 to 16 seasonal jobs.

Concerns about potential risk liability did temper the enthusiasm, briefly, but council was told that there will be ample security for the course, which also has $5 million in liability insurance.

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