Amie Martin, 4, plays in the new splash pad that officially opened Friday at Prince Arthur's Landing.
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Terri Halter says the waterfront fuss was worth the wait.
With dozens of laughing children charging through the splash pad fountains behind her on Friday afternoon, the Thunder Bay resident said the completion of the public portion of Prince Arthur’s Landing should be regarded as a feather in the city’s cap.
“it’s just great, it’s really positive for Thunder Bay,” she said, her two grandchildren in tow. “It’s something really nice happening after everything that’s going on. It’s wonderful. There’s lots for the kids to do.”
Her lone regret was forgetting to bring bathing suits, an afternoon fog rolling in off the harbour doing nothing to dampen their spirits for a little water fun.
“They were just (blown) away and they wanted to get in right away,” she said. “They couldn’t wait. They said, ‘Could we just go in with our clothes on?’”
Eleven-year-old Cassandra Stienke was among the kids who did bring bathing suits, and spent much of the afternoon in the fountains with four-year-old Amie Martin.
She couldn’t get enough of the splash pad, Cassandra said.
“I think it’s good because we have the splash pad and there’s water and little sprinklers,” she said.
While the kids were enjoying themselves outside, with buskers offering up the likes of The Band’s The Shape I’m In to set the atmosphere, the adults – and plenty of youngsters too – were taking in a bit of culture inside.
Friday marked the official opening of the Baggage Building Arts Centre, which will house a collection of locally produced art and offer up a variety of programs, from mural demonstrations to an artisan market, stained glass workshops, paintings and photography.
Across the street, adjacent to the splash pad, the public was getting its first peek inside the Water Garden Pavilion in Mariner’s Hall, which features three exhibits detailing the city’s rich waterfront history.
Lorraine Cull, a co-organizer of the Baggage Building Art Centre, said it’s been a busy two weeks since they got the approval to utilize the space, but thinks the public will love the finished product.
“We wanted to make this an arts centre that is by the community, for the community and with the community,” she said. “The work is all local and regional. The people who are doing all the programming, which are workshops and classes for our little people, to adults and to people with handicaps, they are all local and regional too.”
Being able to show off what they’ve done with the busy centre is special too, Cull added.
“We get to see all of the wonderful things that are being painted and done in our community, in the city and in the region,” she said. “There are community groups like CAHEP and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Willow Springs Community Centre who do activities and programming for people. But a lot of people don’t know about it. So this is a way to let people have a sample of what they are doing.”
Waterfront Development Committee chairman Mark Bentz called it another great day for Thunder Bay’s citizens and their waterfront.
“It’s a wonderful day to be down here,” he said. “There are some new venues open. There’s the splash pad, which is a gorgeous fountain you can play in. It’s just wonderful. The Baggage Centre here is full of cultural types of activities.
“And we have the Mariner’s Hall with some historical exhibits about our port’s past and the Canadian Navy. It’s really turning out to becoming a dynamic part of our city and I love it every time I come down here. There’s something new to see.”
Bentz said he expects a condominium announcement in the coming weeks from developers taking care of the private-sector portion of the $130-million development. Developer Joe Bova earlier this year said he would likely be ready to announce the hotel developer by the end of June.
The city is also expect to name the restauranteur at the Water Garden Pavilion in the coming weeks.
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