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Red tape wraps up waterslide opening

Date

David Sharaz

Owner of Big Splash Waterpark Ron Watkins is unhappy that ACT Government forced him shut down his new water slide at the park after it has been built in time for the summer season.

Owner of Big Splash Waterpark Ron Watkins is unhappy that ACT Government forced him shut down his new water slide at the park after it has been built in time for the summer season. Photo: Jay Cronan

An ACT Government order looks set to stop a $1.5 million set of waterslides from opening - just as Canberra approaches a hot spring weekend.

And the owners of Big Splash Waterpark in Macquarie fear the decision by the ACT Planning and Land Authority to block the opening could jeopardise his business entirely.

Ron Watkins was in the final stages of preparing the new slides this afternoon, and had invited The Canberra Times to take a ride ahead of Saturday's planned opening.

Owner of Big Splash Waterpark Ron Watkins (rear) and customers Madeleine, 10, father Dave and Rachel Cummings, 8.

Owner of Big Splash Waterpark Ron Watkins (rear) and customers Madeleine, 10, father Dave and Rachel Cummings, 8. Photo: Jay Cronan

But early this afternoon an ACTPLA official phoned Mr Watkins to insist the slide be shut down pending further safety checks.

Mr Watkins said the proposed checks – which he said included testing the integrity of the fiberglass – had already been done and were impossible to repeat now the slide was installed.

He said he had already had the development application for the slides approved two years ago and had complied with all requirements leading up to the final inpections this week.

"The damage this is going to do is beyond comprehension," Mr Watkins said.

Mr Watkins said he had sold all his personal assets to purchase the second-hand slides from a Queensland's Wet 'n Wild water park.

Mr Watkins said ACTPLA should have told him about final checks and measures before approving the project.

"We were given the go ahead two years ago - they should never have encouraged us to continue this project," he said.

Final touches were being put on the new additions to waterpark, which he had hoped to open for this weekend and capitalise on temperatures in the low 30s.

He said business was already tough enough without having to deal with red tape.

"There needs to be a little flexibility and understanding; safety is of course my number one priority, but communication needs to happen."

"This sort of stuff should have been sorted out during the building phase", Mr Watkins said.

 

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