Sandy Bay First Nation is an Indigenous community located about 170 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba. With almost 7,000 registered members and more than 4,000 living on reserve, Sandy Bay is one of the largest First Nations in the province. Sandy Bay's infrastructure has historically been underdeveloped.
Water is both friend and foe to this Ojibway community. It relies on agriculture to drive its economy. At the same time, Sandy Bay has faced flooding since its founding in the 1800s on the shore of Lake Manitoba.
In 2011, a flood devastated Sandy Bay, destroying homes and roads. As part of a comprehensive strategic response, the community's leaders highlighted the needs of an often-overlooked group of stakeholders: their youth.
Prior to the flood, Lake Manitoba had offered Sandy Bay's children a recreational refuge from searing summer temperatures. That all changed in 2011. The beach was now generally off limits to a population with few recreational options.
A community splash pad: that was the solution Sandy Bay leaders settled on. A splash pad would not only provide recreation for the children – it could serve as a community focal point and potentially be monetized.
To complete the project, community leaders needed to secure funding and execute the project.
Sandy Bay engaged BDO's Indigenous Organizations team to make the splash pad a reality. The project formed part of a larger partnership between BDO and Sandy Bay to help the community recover from the 2011 flood.
BDO obtained $375,000 in total project funding from three organizations:
- Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (now Indigenous Services Canada)
- Manitoba Hydro
- Canada 150
Sandy Bay CEO Lynette Roulette had requested a splash pad that was sustainable. To meet the request, BDO designed a unique type of recycling mechanism. It minimized the draw on the local water supply and reduced the going-forward cost of the splash pad.