Splash pad coming to Dartmouth named after resident Shirley Clarke

Shirely Clarke was a long-time resident of Dartmouth who will soon be honoured with a new splash pad bearing her name.
Shirely Clarke was a long-time resident of Dartmouth who will soon be honoured with a new splash pad bearing her name.

A new splash pad expected to come to Dartmouth will bear the name of a beloved Dartmouth resident who passed away last year, Shirley Clarke.

On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Council approved the $150,000 in funding raised by the Friends of Dartmouth Splash Pad and the proposal to name the project Shirley’s Splash Pad.

The community group has been pushing to get a children’s splash pad in Dartmouth for years, and approval from council depended on the community-raised funding. A campaign to fundraise for the project was launched in 2019.

Clarke, a mother of five and grandmother of 12, passed away in 2020.

One of her daughters, Dorothy Gibson, raised her own children in the same community she grew up in around the former Park School in Dartmouth. She felt strongly about a new splash pad being built in the area.

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“I had read about it in the past, so after my mom passed in 2020, I wanted to do something to honour her,” she said.

Gibson and her husband Dan then met with the splash pad committee, which at that point had raised around $40,000.

To name the splash pad after her mother, the Gibson family offered a $110,000 donation to the committee.

“I have five siblings, all of us went to Park School,” she said.

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The proposal for the splash pad places it on the sandy land of the Dartmouth Common, right where the original Park School was, Gibson said.

“My husband and I actually raised our three sons in the same community, and I thought that’s a really good fit for us to be able to help the community and honour my mom.”

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“It’s really exciting,” Gibson said, adding the committee has been working on this project for four years.

In a release by the Friends of the Dartmouth Splashpad, member Rick Mayuk said the committee is thrilled to have worked with the community on raising funds for the project.

“After four years, this project is coming together with a generous donation of $110,000 from Dorothy and Dan Gibson, funds from our community, and the support of our local councillors,” he said in the release.

“This area will be a gathering place for families with access to the skate park, playground, ball courts, and soon, Shirley’s Splash Pad.”

A project proposal for Shirley’s Splash Pad is seen.

Gibson said it’s overdue for Dartmouth to have a splash pad. And, she said her mother would be happy to hear about it.

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“Mom was really proud of her family, she really valued education, and she had grandchildren and great-grandchildren, … and I just thought it would make mom proud to be associated with this project.”

Gibson has grandchildren who, before coronavirus, would use the indoor splashpad at the Zatzman Sportsplex. Now, she’s hoping Shirley’s Splash Pad will be a place to bring the community together.

“Hopefully, children of all ages and abilities will be able to get to use it in the community,” Gibson said. “My husband and I are thrilled to be a part of the project.”

Now it’s up to Halifax council to approve the Parks and Recreation budget, which includes $500,000 for Shirley’s Splash Pad.

According to the splash pad community, that is expected to go before council in February 2021.

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