BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Let the kids play

The Interior Health Authority has officially taken the fun out of summer.

The Interior Health Authority has officially taken the fun out of summer. Politicians in Enderby have been forced to shut down the Barnes Park spray park this year because IHA just discovered kids may slip and fall when running across a wet surface.

What’s next? Ripping out the swings because the kids may get air sick?

Obviously we want to protect our kids and ensure they aren’t needlessly or seriously hurt. But all of us grown-ups — including maybe a few IHA officials — recovered from the occasional scrape or sore tush. In fact, those bandaged knees and elbows often fuelled considerable chatter around the playground and the stories became almost legendary.

My oldest, who is almost 18 now, vividly remembers going to the Enderby spray park when she was about five because she went storming across the surface, slipped and crashed. After a few seconds of tears, she was right back at it, but she got the message and was more cautious.

Besides the possibility of slipping, IHA is worried children will climb on the colorful features and promptly fall off. And that’s always possible unless we start covering kids in bubble wrap.

What IHA appears to miss in all of this is the responsibility of pool staff and parents to keep an eye on the children and to minimize risks where possible. But any of us who are parents understand that kids sometimes move faster than the human eye. The only way to  truly protect them is to keep them locked in a room.

Aware of IHA’s concerns, the city applied for a $134,565 provincial grant in December to construct a new facility. It took until March for a Dear John letter from the government, saying no cash is available.

As we have seen before with Greater Vernon water utility upgrades, frustration comes from IHA — a provincial agency — placing significant financial demands on a community with absolutely no onus on the government to step up to the plate with money to rectify the situation.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that while Enderby has been left sitting on the sidelines, Lumby recently got a provincial grant for a water park. Now this isn’t to take away from Lumby because additional recreational amenities are definitely needed there, but how is it that one community rises to the top and another doesn’t?

Plus, as was mentioned earlier, Enderby was seeking help because of an apparent problem identified by provincial officials.

Given all of the other financial pressures in the world, a spray park may seem frivolous. But amenities like that help keep children active and build memories. They give families a reason to move to town or tourists to stop.

Beyond investigating other funding opportunities, it is time for the politicians and residents of Enderby and Area F to make some noise.

They should demand IHA brass actually come to town for a first-hand meeting to understand how important the spray park is to families, and particularly those with toddlers. Lobbying should also be directed towards MLA George Abbott, so he can take the needs of the community directly to the penny-pinchers in Victoria.

But be careful when writing those letters because IHA may issue an advisory on paper cuts.

Worse yet, clicking the mouse for e-mail may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Then again, prolonged red tape may give you a severe pain in the neck.

—Richard Rolke is the senior reporter for The Morning Star