Hard work pays off. Just ask Jamie Hughes-Rywaczuk, whose project of getting a waterpark in 100 Mile House will officially come to a close on Aug. 6 with its grand opening.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m excited for the community. This is a huge improvement, and it’s a huge asset to our community. It’s not just for the kids, it benefits our entire community. It’s a draw to professionals and it’s a draw to tourism.”
Hughes-Rywaczuk concludes that there is nothing negative about the waterpark being added to Centennial Park’s landscape.
The waterpark will follow a marsh theme, which she said felt more suitable to Centennial Park because “it’s just natural and beautiful.”
Aug. 6 was chosen as the official opening date because the project would not have been finished before July 1. Hughes-Rwyaxzuk said B.C. Day was a good fit, instead.
The celebration will begin in at noon and go until 4 p.m. Local band 100 Miles From Nowhere will be playing a set at the new stage. There will also be a free barbecue with refreshments, cakes and cupcakes.
There will be bouncy castles and the waterpark will be fully operational.
The project was born at a dinner table in early 2012.
“My husband actually made a comment as we were watching the news. They said that the one-cent coin was going out of circulation, so my husband said: “oh, wouldn’t it be cool if everyone in town donated all the pennies they have laying around and put it towards something.” I just kind of thought that’s a really good idea,” said Hughes-Rywaczuk.
She posted the idea to Facebook and got the penny drive started. Members of the community soon started dropping off jars of pennies and volunteers would count them every weekend.
There was also a voting process with five options for the public to decide where the money would go to. Over 90 per cent of the votes, according to Hughes-Rywaczuk, went to the waterpark when the voting closed on July 1, 2012.
“I approached [Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA] Donna Barnett after we counted the pennies and just said to her: “I don’t know what to do. The town voted for a waterpark, I don’t even know what a waterpark costs or anything.” She just looked at me and said: “go for it”. So I did,” Hughes-Rywaczuk said.
She then went to the South Cariboo Joint Committee. They agreed to donate land to the waterpark in Centennial Park if the family and the project’s supporters could raise all the funds.
It wasn’t until the group received the first large donation on May 27, 2013, that they were taken seriously. Coming from the 100 Mile Youth and Recreation Association, the cheque was for $20,265.71.
“That brought us to $25,000 and that’s when we were actually taken seriously as a group because we had that foundation. We weren’t just a group coming in with a couple thousand dollars,” she said.
Donations from politicians, the district, the province, local businesses and individuals followed suit with donations at fundraisers, events and even some dropped them off under Hughes-Rywaczuk’s welcoming mat at her house.
The numerous donations included a $50,000 cheque presented by Donna Barnett and 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall at a press conference on Jan. 20, 2017.
Before that cheque though, the waterpark group reached out to the district’s council in 2014 after seeing the goal of getting a waterpark in the village may not have been attainable after all due to the costs.
“We approached council after we got all the costs and we asked them to help us and they said at that point they would fund the lift station with the joint committee and that really gave us another boost and after that it was just more fundraising,” said Hughes-Rywaczuk. “When the district and joint committee committed to the lift station I knew it [the waterpark] was going to happen and honestly, I knew this was going to happen since the beginning because I never had any doubts.”