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Can an insurance company promotion get us a splash pad?

Short answer: Sault Ste. Marie's bid for Aviva Community Fund support is a one-in-30 long shot
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The City of Sault Ste. Marie's viral campaign for an Aviva Community Fund grant for the Bellevue Park splash pad project is long on enthusiasm, but somewhat short on contest specifics.

Aviva Canada Inc. is a major property and casualty insurance company with more than 4,000 employees and almost three million customers.

Since 2009, the firm has generously supported Canadian charities and community groups through its Aviva Community Fund, which has made donations totalling $7.5 million so far and is looking forward to distributing another million dollars this year.

Supporters of the city's $550,000 Bellevue Park splash pad project are being asked to vote in an online competition against 540 other Canadian initiatives.

What are the chances the Aviva Community Fund promotion could pour much-needed cash into a Sault splash pad?

Short answer: it's a long shot.

The competition's web site states that over its eight-year history, the fund has supported 250 projects across Canada.

That's just one out of every 33 applications accepted.

And even if we do emerge on top of the community health large-ideas category, our total winnings will be between $50,000 and $100,000 – a fraction of the $550,000 cost of the Bellevue project.

Ward 1 Councillor Paul Christian, chair of the splash pad subcommittee, told City Council this week that the city is also applying for an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.

But Aviva Fund support would go a long way to help build Sault Ste. Marie's first splash pad, Christian said in a news release issued Thursday after the competition's first week of online voting.

And Sault Ste. Marie's entry appears to be off to a strong start.

At 10 p.m. Thursday, our splash pad had garnered an impressive 14,089 votes, compared to 476 votes for a proposal to rebuild Searchmont's train station and 445 votes for an action centre aimed at helping homeless youth in Sudbury.

“I am excited to see the public support in voting for this important initiative,” says Christian.

Supporters are being asked to undergo a simple online registration process that will allow them 18 votes.

"Residents are being asked to cast all 18 votes for the Sault Ste. Marie splash pad," the city news release says.

Here’s how to vote:

  • visit
  • click the ‘Register’ button to get your 18 votes
  • register by creating an account or using your Facebook login
  • cast all 18 votes to support the Sault Ste. Marie splash pad
  • click ‘submit votes’
  • promote the idea by sharing the link on social media

“We still have quite a ways to go and are urging voters, if they have not done so already, to register and vote now,” says Virginia McLeod, the city's manager of recreation and culture.

Voting closes on Oct. 19.

Finalists will be announced Nov. 1 and winners will be announced on Dec. 5.