Harbour East Update: Splash Pad, Cancer Survivors Garden, and Disc Golf

Dartmouth Splash Pad Concept

It was a busy evening at Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council. There were three proposals for additions to municipal parks in District 5 before us including the Dartmouth Splash Pad, Cancer Survivors Garden, and a Disc Golf Course. I’m not sure how widely these initiatives are known, and since they all came to Council in one group, I thought it would be worth writing a blog entry to introduce them.

Dartmouth Splash Pad: Thanks to the community group’s active social media presence and past media attention (CBC, Global, News 95.7), the proposed Dartmouth Splash Pad is probably the best known of the three projects. HRM currently has six splash pads, five of which are located in Halifax. There are no splash pads on the Dartmouth side of the harbour and this gap has prompted the formation of the Friends of the Dartmouth Splash Pad. The group is seeking to emulate the successful creation of HRM’s sixth splash pad in Sackville in 2014, which came about through a partnership between the Kinsmen Club of Sackville and the municipality

The Dartmouth Splash Pad group has been developing a proposal for HRM to consider and they presented their proposal to Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council back in the spring. The Dartmouth Splash Pad group envisions a signature splash pad, which would serve a Regional population. They identified Grahams Grove as their preferred location, with the Dartmouth Common and Brownlow Park as alternate suggestions. Harbour East passed a motion in the spring directing staff to review the proposal.

Thursday’s meeting was staff reporting back on their review with recommended next steps. The recommendation was for Harbour East to recommend that Regional Council direct staff to undertake a detailed technical analysis and to work with the Friends to get fundraising started. Rather than Grahams Grove though, Parks and Rec staff favour the Dartmouth Common, specifically the section around the new playground on Wyse Road. Staff weren’t supportive of Grahams Grove due to site constraints, and less of a readily accessible residential population nearby. Staff have identified the Common site as the preferred location because it has the potential to build on the existing infrastructure that’s already in place (playground and Sportsplex), it’s centrally-located, and has good access to transit. The Common site is also better in terms of being accessible to lower-income residents who mightn’t have the same the opportunities to enjoy our Region’s lakes and beaches.

Harbour East accepted the staff recommendation so this project will next go to Regional Council. If Regional Council agrees, staff will now take on a more site specific review of the Common as a potential splash pad site. I suspect that work will proceed, the hard part will be finding the money to build it.

Cancer Survivors Park: Another community-based project returning to Harbour East from staff review was the proposal to create a Cancer Survivor’s Park on the Dartmouth waterfront. Cancer Survivors Parks have been built in many cities across the world, and are designed to celebrate and acknowledge survivorship. To give hope. They typically include sculptures, inspirational quotes/plaques, and a walking trail. There are Parks already in Ottawa and Mississauga, but Dartmouth’s would be the first in Atlantic Canada.

The Dartmouth park is thanks to the initiative of Jim and Judie Edgar. It will be located along Alderney Drive near King’s Wharf. The plan is to layout the walkway in the shape of a ribbon with a large sculpture piece at its centre. The project will be funded in part from contributions from several Dartmouth councillor’s district capital funds and from private donations.

Cancer Survivors Park Concept Plan

Council accepted the staff recommendation to approve the Alderney Drive site as the location of the Cancer Survivors Garden. If funding permits, construction could proceed this year. I’m confident that whenever it gets built, it’ll be a welcome addition to the Dartmouth waterfront.

PEI’s Hillcrest Farm Disc Golf Course. Photo: CBC

Disc Golf Course: Finally, disc golf could be coming to Dartmouth. Disc golf (aka frisbee golf) is an accessible recreational activity. It is low-cost, low-impact, and can be enjoyed by players of all ages. There is currently just one course in HRM, located on private land in Hammonds Plains. Other municipalities in the Maritimes have built disc golf courses in parks, including Moncton, Fredericton Kentville, Bridgewater, Chester, and Cape Breton, but HRM doesn’t have one yet.

The Maritime Disc Golf Association’s proposal is to locate a course on the municipally-owned wooded lands next to the North Woodside Community Centre. This section of land currently has no programmed use. It has, at times, been a source of concern for area residents and the Community Centre as a potential space for illicit activity. HRM looked at thinning out the woods due to these concerns several years ago, but the cost was prohibitive, especially for a piece of land that doesn’t have any active use. The Disc Golf Association has formed a tentative partnership with the North Woodside Community Centre with the goal of bringing Disc Golf to North Woodside. The Community Centre would likely have discs available for sign-out and the Disc Golf Association would provide stewardship and programming at the course.

There is another community idea concerning this vacant land. The Pleasant-Woodside Association is developing a proposal for a nature-themed walking trail that would create a short walk in the woods and that would link-up to the Harbour Trail. Disc Golf does have golf in the name, but it’s a sport that’s courses bear little resemblance to the manicured wide-open fairways of traditional golf. As a result, I suspect the two ideas are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Staff will review the Disc Golf proposal and return to Council in a few months with a recommendation as to how to proceed. Since there are two ideas for the same piece of property, I expect the municipality will hold some sort of public consultation/visioning for the space.


  1. All of these recreational opportunities sound like good fun, but I want to plead with the City to allow the arts committee to vet any sculptures planned for this cancer survivors’ park. The eyesore that is the dragonfly statue beside Sullivan’s Park came about because the City allowed the public art process to be ignored. Please don’t let this happen again.

    • I’ll raise the question with staff. I understand the Cancer Survivor’s Park organizers were in discussions with Ivan Higgins so they’re keen to have a high-quality piece created by a professional artist.

      • Here’s the problem: The organizers don’t get to choose the artist! A committee of professional artists does this. Please don’t let these organizers decide. Please insist that Council follow the guidelines of the public art policy which they have voted on and agreed upon.

        • I will look into it with staff. This isn’t a piece that HRM is commissioning. The municipality isn’t putting any money into the project. It’s being driven by the community group. I don’t know what difference that makes or not. I will discuss.

        • “Please insist that Council follow the guidelines of the public art policy which they have voted on and agreed upon.” I agree with Jane. There is an Arts Policy. Why isn’t it being used?? This IS public land!

    • I happen to love what you refer to as an eyesore, and I believe it’s a very appropriate piece of art for the place it’was chosen for. I guess you can’t please everyone, and there’s always going to be someone complaining. Why can’t people just appreciate the effort put in to making things better instead of always bringing these efforts down?

      • Oh, Kelly, I’m glad SOMEONE likes it; but that’s not my point. I shouldn’t have voiced my personal opinion of the dragonfly, in this context. I want Council to follow the guidelines in the Public Art policy. It’s wrong to let anyone with “friends in high places” to put up a piece of sculpture or other art piece on public land. Even if that piece is stunningly beautiful.

  2. It’s on public land. Can anyone who wants to put up a piece of “art” on public land? Who decides? My tax dollars wound up being spent for the plinth and concrete pad for the dragonfly. ($30,000+, I seem to remember.)

  3. It would be lovely and interesting if HRM actually followed one of their established rules rather than bowing to the loudest voice. Many people use that walk. It is very public land. HRM has a policy in place- so follow it. It would be tempting to set a toilet down on the grass at the park and demand it stay there becaise I contributed it…I even find the “ribbon path” cheesy- but I guess that is a set thing. Why not go for real art instead of memes?

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