North Vancouver approves 1,000-foot-long water slip-and-slide for Lonsdale

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Vancouver’s loss is turning out to be North Vancouver’s colossal gain: on Monday evening, North Vancouver City Council unanimously approved a 1,000-foot-long (330-metre) water slip-and-slide summertime event in Lower Lonsdale.

The day-long event is scheduled for Saturday, August 22 and will be organized by Slide The City, the Utah-based organization known for bringing iconic touring slip-and-slide attraction to hundreds of cities across North America and around the world.

The slide will traverse a four-city-block length of Lonsdale Avenue beginning at Keith Road and ending at 3rd Street with a long splash pool stretch to stop. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., participants will slip-and-slide along the entire course with the assistance of gravity and a running stream of water fed by fire hydrants.

Start line (looking south – downhill)

Image: Google Maps Streetview

Image: Lonsdale Avenue on Google Maps Streetview

Finish line (looking north – uphill)

Image: Google Maps Streetview

Image: Lonsdale Avenue on Google Maps Streetview

According to city documents that describe the plans in detail, the water used on the slide will be treated with chlorine and recirculated throughout the day using pumps and hoses from the bottom of the slide to the top of the slide. The slip-and-slide has inflated edges to keep participants inside the tubes as well as a one-inch thick polyethylene foam cushion underneath the slipping surface to ensure the ride downhill is smooth.

Slide The City Event Director Rachel Thomas was at this week’s meeting addressing questions posed by Council, including Councillor Pam Bookham’s concerns over the speed of the slide.

“So we have set minimums and maximums for the slopes of the streets of we actually put this [slide] down,” said Thomas. “We have a minimum of three per cent and a maximum of 15 per cent, and Lonsdale does not exceed any of those. So we have taken those precautions to ensure they won’t be speeding down excessively.”

Thomas added that Lonsdale Avenue’s grades are between nine to 10 per cent, which is a shallower grade than the 12 per cent slope at last year’s inaugural event in Salt Lake City along Main Street.

Since then, organizers have gained knowledge of the best practices lessons learned through their experiences with hosting Slide The City in other jurisdictions such as adding a third sliding tube solely for children to use.

An added safety measure is the use of inner tubes when passengers make their descent down the hill.

Four block route for Slide The City (top: Keith Road; bottom: 3rd Street) 

Image: Google Maps Streetview

Image: Google Maps Streetview

Slide The City is being planned as a financially self-sustaining event that will cover all direct costs associated with installing and operating the slip-and-slide.

Council has also required the company to acquire a $5 million liability insurance policy that includes the municipal government as an additional entity insured. Furthermore, organizers must reimburse the City for costs incurred by taxpayers including wayfinding signage and water, but the municipal government will pick up the tab for $2,500 in policing costs.

Approximately 3,000 sliding wristbands will be made available at prices ranging from $15 (single ride admission during the Early Bird ticketing phase) to $65 (VIP unlimited sliding). Between 10,000 to 15,000 people are expected to descend on Lower Lonsdale to participate or watch the sliding, which will greatly benefit local businesses.

Slide The City is a for-profit company, but organizers have previously used their proceeds to build underground wells in developing countries. In addition, for the ‘legacy’ of North Vancouver event between $7,000 to $10,000 will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The event will coincide with the City’s reinstatement of Car Free Day on Lonsdale Avenue from Esplanade Avenue to 3rd Street. The City plans to partner with the organizers of the four main Car Free Day events in Vancouver.

Slide The City first announced their intention to host events in Canada last year. Confirmed events accompanying North Vancouver this summer so far include Calgary and Edmonton.

The City of Vancouver had the opportunity to host Slide The City as organizers put forward a proposal to the Special Events Branch, however, it was rejected due to “safety issues” according to The Province.

Earlier this year, a grassroots group announced their intentions to organize a Slide The Main event along Main Street on June 21, Car Free Day, but that too failed to gain any traction.

Strangely enough, the City of North Vancouver is seemingly more capable of following the lead of the cities that have been able to overcome Slide the City’s safety obstacles and organized sliding events without problems.

“I think this is an exciting, family-friendly event that will bring all ages, not only from our community and the North Shore but also the broader region,” said North Vancouver City Councillor Linda Buchanan. “This is the opportunity for us to have an event that puts the City of North Vancouver on the map as being someplace that is fun and to come to hangout.”

“There will be something that we can actually stay in the City and not have to go over to Vancouver and spend our money on.”

Slide The City 2014 Salt Lake City

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Image: Slide The City

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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