One of Hamilton’s most popular summer attractions Wild Waterworks appears to be nearing a crossroads as city staff are recommending a comprehensive study of its future.
The measure is expected to include a public consultation to see how keen residents are on keeping the 40-year-old water park, whose slides and pools nearing their end of life.
Ward 5 Coun. Matt Francis says the Wild Waterworks file is a complex one that’s not been very straightforward over the years straddling a number of different councils, master plans, and ideas.
He says stakeholders and city staff will meet up in early December to look over the examination with possible options ranging from winding down the attraction to investing tens of millions of dollars into enhancements.
It could include the feasibility of a “public-private partnership” to get the venue off the city’s books but keep it as an asset to the municipality.
“That’s just an exploration,” Francis says.
“I mean, that’s not something we have to choose to go down, but we need to look at all options.”
A staff report says the waterpark, which opened in 1983, will need tens of millions to remain viable.
Owned by the city and operated by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, close to 80,000 visitors attended the park this past summer.
Cynthia Graham, director of environmental services, says nothing is being ruled out, and although a master plan for the park makes recommendations on how to keep it running, she says the city will also look at what the space could be used for if closed.
“So the recommendation of this report is that we start having those conversations,” Graham told a committee Monday.
“Including options of a renewal of (the) water park facility, but also taking a look at all options as to what this place could be as to all of council’s priorities and pressures.”
The 2020 master plan made four recommendations for the park, including doing nothing for two more years and replacing every park fixture “like for like” at $26 million.
The last two suggestions involve creating a Disneyland-like park costing either $40 or $60 million.
Francis says the staff review is expected to take about a year before the difficult decision is made.
“I was actually a season pass holder with my kids in 2023 … and I can tell you firsthand, the park is magnificent,” Francis says.
“Yes, it is aged, but it is a great asset lined up and down the road on a hot summer day. Don’t kid yourself, this park is still very much vibrant.”