Vernon looks at scrapping damaged spray park as it works to tackle Polson flooding

Click to play video: 'Vernon looking at removing damaged spray park as Polson Park flooding problem continues' Vernon looking at removing damaged spray park as Polson Park flooding problem continues
WATCH: It's not fully clear what's causing the flooding problem in Vernon's Polson Park, but in recent years pooling groundwater has created a big mess. – Feb 24, 2021

It’s not fully clear why, but in the last four years, Vernon’s Polson Park has developed an ongoing problem with pooling water that’s created a big mess.

The mysterious flooding has, at times, forced the closure of some park amenities and is now contributing to a city council decision to look at demolishing Polson’s spray park.

The city is looking at scrapping the spray park after groundwater infiltrated its water storage tank and eroded the soil underneath the water features creating sinkholes.

Read more: Parts of Vernon’s Polson Park still closed because of flooding

Groundwater in the storage tank is an issue because it means the city can’t guarantee the water coming out of the sprinklers is clean.

On top of those problems, the city said the rubberized surface under the spray park is growing algae which would need to be regularly cleaned if the spray park was to be used.

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Vernon’s mayor Victor Cumming described the spray park as “a real mess” and noted it couldn’t be used at all last year.

“Everybody loves the spray park. Everybody thinks it is a great addition. Everybody wants it in Polson Park. It’s a great central location. Right now, unfortunately, biology has changed and hydrology had changed and now we have got a real groundwater problem in Polson Park,” Cumming said.

Pooling water has been an ongoing issue in Polson Park since 2017. Megan Turcato / Global News

Many parents and caregivers are unhappy to see the spray park go.

“I think it would be a better idea to clean it up and do the fixes needed instead of taking it away from the kids who already have such limited parks they can play in safely,” said parent Liz Scaletta.

The city doesn’t think repairing the problems with the spray park is a viable option right now because what’s causing the water problem in Polson Park is not yet fully understood.

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However, the mayor said council would like to see a replacement spray park in the future.

“Rest assured council and staff are absolutely committed to trying to figure out how do we redo this,” said Cumming.

“Right now we don’t know enough about the hydrology to say, ‘Yes, we can do it in Polson Park and yes, we can do it here or there.”

A city staff report suggested it might be two or three years before a replacement could be installed.

A report by a hydrogeologist suggested the city remove the walls on the sides of Vernon Creek to improve drainage. Megan Turcato / Global News

What the city is doing to address the flooding is looking at taking out the walls along the sides of Vernon Creek in the park.

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An expert report suggested removing the built form around the creek might help drain the pooling water.

The hydrogeologist’s report said that concrete walls might be blocking the groundwater from draining into the creek.

Click to play video: 'Parts of Vernon’s Polson Park remain closed because of flooding' Parts of Vernon’s Polson Park remain closed because of flooding
Parts of Vernon’s Polson Park remain closed because of flooding – Jul 24, 2020

However, the expert suggested naturalizing the creek alone may not fully fix the flooding problem.

The hydrogeologist said the flooding near the playground might be caused by a separate issue: a layer of clay in the soil preventing precipitation from draining away.

The city is expecting more information from a flood mapping project that is expected to be finished in the spring and has also approved a $75,000 study to look at getting rid of the walls along the side of the creek.

The mayor said the city will continue working to try to fix the pooling water issue.

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Cumming suggested options might including pumping the water out, or putting in more French drains.

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