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'It’s going to be over 30 degrees:' Ottawa's Mayor asks Premier Ford to reconsider decision to keep splash pads closed

Mayor Jim Watson and several councillors have expressed their disappointment over the provincial government's decision to close splash pads ahead of the forecasted hot long weekend.
Greg King for NewmarketToday

Today's provincial reopening announcement from Premier Doug Ford was a welcome one for Mayor Jim Watson and fellow councillors — but it's one that still leaves Ottawa's leaders wanting more.

Specifically, concerns over the provincial government's decision to close splash pads before the upcoming long weekend, which promises to be a scorcher, and the reopening of schools. In fact, Ottawa Public Health has issued a special weather statement warning of extreme heat and humidity.

“[Premier Ford] please reconsider your decision to not allow splash-pads to open at the same time as other outdoor activities like golf and basketball,” the mayor tweeted Thursday evening. “It’s going to be over 30 degrees this long weekend.”

This sentiment was followed up with messages of support from other city councillors, including Jeff Leiper, Glen Gower, Keith Egli and Shawn Menard, who tweeted, “This feels silly.”

“The Mayor and I occasionally disagree, but I would be grateful if the residents of Ottawa could [retweet] his tweet and that up to 10,000 re-tweets by bedtime,” Leiper said in reference to Watson’s original tweet.

“Let’s open these for kids [sic] and parents looking for someplace to cool off as we head into the heat wave this weekend,” Gower tweeted.

"As I retweet this it just seems wrong that splash pads are not allowed to be open. Excessive heat is a public health issue as well," Egli wrote.

As per the government's three-step reopening, outdoor splash pads are not allowed to reopen until phase one of the plan begins on June 14.

Ottawa has 127 splash pads across the city. 

As of 7:20 p.m. Thursday, Ford had not responded to the councillors’ pleas.

Ontario has been under a stay-at-home order since April 8 and is expected to end on June 14.

"We understand and share your disappointment, especially with summer-like temperatures," a statement released from the city on Thursday said. "But stay tuned for future communications around on the opening of splash pads and other closed outdoor amenities, including beaches, in the coming days and weeks, as sights re set for brighter days ahead this summer."

Earlier in the day, however, Watson did also release a statement via Twitter regarding the announcement of the Ontario government’s phased reopening of the province.

“The last few months have undoubtedly been the most difficult stretch of this pandemic,” Watson wrote to Ford. “However, today’s plan released by Premier Ford brings us all a little bit of hope as vaccines are rolling out in large quantities, the weather is getting nicer and we can once again begin enjoying more outdoor activities.”

In the statement, the mayor also expressed concern over the ambiguity of plans surrounding the reopening of schools.

“This reopening plan will only be possible with your cooperation, Ottawa,” Watson said. “We are not yet out of this. But if we proceed with caution, patience and compassion I am confident that we will be able to drive down the number of cases in our community and see a more normal fall than last year’s.”

On Thursday, Ford released a three-step plan to reopen Ontario. 

Phase one, which starts on June 14, will include allowing larger outdoor gatherings for up to 10 people, Outdoor dining for up to four people per table, non-essential retail to open at 15 per cent capacity, outdoor sports for up to 10 people, the opening of campsites, among others. 

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