Monday, 18 September 2017

Farewell, Wet 'N' Wild Waterslide Park?

©2017, Christian Cassidy

After years of demands from local government officials, it appears that the abandoned Skinner's Wet 'N' Wild water slide structure on Highway 44 in Lockport might finally be demolished.

Top: May 1993 Interlake Spectator ad
Bottom: In better days, (1990 newspaper ad)

In May 1984, it was announced that Wet 'N' Wild would receive up to $150,000 from Destination Manitoba to build a water slide park at Lockport, Manitoba. (DM was a 1980s government initiative funded 60% by the feds and 40% by the province to promote tourism and tourism development projects in the province.)

The ownership group of Wet 'N' Wild included Al Thompson, owner of Skinners restaurants, and local area NHLers Wayne and Dave Babych.

The seven-storey structure featuring four, 130-metre long slides officially opened in 1984. Surrounding it was a recreation site that eventually comprised of two baseball diamonds, mini-golf, bumper cars, a golf course and a batting range.

The slides weren't just a big tourism draw for the area, attracting about 1,200 customers on the average weekend in the 1990s, it was also where a few dozens area kids found their summer job each year.

August 23, 2005, Winnipeg Free Press

In the early aughties, a couple of unseasonably cold summers cut attendance and the increasing costs of both maintaining the aging structure and purchasing liability insurance for it, made the business economically unfeasible. It was closed in 2005.

Around 2007, Skinners sold the 30-acre piece of land, including the intact water slide structure, to a development company. (A 2013 Free Press article says Skinners sold to Santa Fe Developments of India, which is has since relocated to Winnipeg. More recent stories say that Sante Fe purchased it more recently from a foreign developer.)

The assumption was that it would soon become a residential development.

The land was never developed and the structure became a favourite haunt for late-night partiers.

With concerns about the safety of those sneaking onto the site, St. Andrews municipal officials called for the structure's demolition in 2013, in 2015 and, after an out-building on the site was set ablaze, in 2017.

Heavy machinery recently appeared on the site which has led to the speculation that the structure may finally be torn down. (Also see.)

The Santa Fe Development website says that the land is slated for redevelopment in 2017 - 2018.


cpConductor said...

I was past the site on Sunday evening(oct1) and the slides and support structure have been torn down.

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