OTTAWA -- The Ontario government will allow splash pads to stay open this weekend, after saying they would be forced to close under the province's reopening plan.

The province said Thursday that splash pads would not be allowed to open until mid-June. However, that decision is being reversed after backlash from several mayors, including Ottawa mayor Jim Watson.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Premier's office confirmed splash pads will be allowed to open, like other outdoor recreational amenities reopening across the province.

"Recognizing that splash/spray pads, like other outdoor recreational amenities, can be safely enjoyed, we have amended the regulation to align splash pads/spray pads with other outdoor recreational amenities," said the statement.

The city of Ottawa had turned splash pads on earlier this week with the expectation that they would be open for the May long weekend. When the province announced they would have to close them again, Watson expressed his disappointment.

"I'm really disappointed because I know kids were looking forward to that. You've told us the hot weather is coming, it would have been great to get the splash pads open," said Mayor Jim Watson during an interview on CTV News at Five.

"But unfortunately, the province has said no."

On Twitter, Watson called on Premier Doug Ford to keep the splash pads on, and urged residents to email their MPP.

"Please reconsider your decision to not allow splash pads to open at the same time as other outdoor activities like golf and basketball," Watson said in a tweet directed at the premier. "It's going to be over 30 degrees this long weekend."

Ottawa Public Health gave the city the green light to open the splash pads despite the stay-at-home order.

"I think the assessment is that a splash pad is very similar to a playground in terms of its exemption to be open under the provincial stay-at-home order," said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, during a media availability on Wednesday.

There are 145 splash pads in Ottawa. Watson says 137 will be opened by this weekend, and the remaining eight have damage or maintenance issues that will be addressed.

Temperatures are expected to exceed 30 C in Ottawa this weekend.


The city of Ottawa says children do not need to wear a mask while on the splash pad.

Parents and guardians are asked to help maintain COVID-safety by:

  • Avoiding crowding on the splash pad
  • Maintaining your child’s physical distancing from individuals outside your household
  • Ensuring they avoid touching their face and common touchpoints on the splash pads
  • Washing or sanitizing your child’s hands regularly

Parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to wear masks near splash pads and keep two metres from those outside their household.

Ottawa's park ambassadors will be touring parks and splash pads to provide guidance and answer any questions.

Splash pads are open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

- With files from Graham Richardson, CTV News Ottawa