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Splash pad: Sandy Bay First Nation

Case study

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.

The challenge

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.

The solution

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.

"A 2011 Flood destroyed our beach shoreline and for five years the community was unable to access the beach. The creation of the splash pad was intended for the youth to have a clean safe environment to cool off and have fun. We are exploring the possibility of renting out the splash park for birthday parties and other events. However, the overall intent of the splash pad is for the little ones to have a safe and healthy place to play in the water!"
Lynette Roulette, CEO, Sandy Bay First Nation

BDO also project-managed the construction of the splash pad, and helped change the system mid-project. Partnering with Roulette, BDO worked with multiple levels of government to meet public health requirements.

The end result: The Sandy Bay Nation Splash Pad opened in Summer 2018, after four years of collaboration and hard work. Residents have flocked to the venue.

kids playing at sandy bay's splash pad

The benefit

Sandy Bay's splash pad is more than a place for kids to play on a hot summer's day.

Parents often watch their children from the nearby overhang. When neighbouring First Nations converge on Sandy Bay for a pow wow, they meet near the splash pad.

Children in city centres across Canada attend summer camp. In Sandy Bay, the youth gather at their splash pad — creating relationships and memories that last a lifetime.

Sandy Bay leaders may eventually monetize the splash pad, charging admission to visitors. They expect to launch a multiplex movie theatre in Fall 2019 and have discussed building a hotel in the area.

In the meantime, Sandy Bay's water oasis serves as a symbol of return from a tragic flood — and as an anchor for the continued growth, development, modernization and self-sustainability of Sandy Bay First Nation.

Learn more about Sandy Bay's work with BDO.

BDO can help

Learn more about our services for Indigenous Organizations

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