After a long and anticipated wait, the Macdonald Island Park celebrated its grand opening in the fall of 2010.

The completed aquatic center provides interactive play, fitness, recreation, educational, wellness and therapy and competition opportunities, offering six different water temperatures. From coolest (1) to warmest (6) the various areas include: A 54-meter competition pool with one 3-meter and two 1-meter spring boards (1); a four-lane, multi-purpose warm-up/teaching pool (2); an activity sprayground featuring a play structure with more than 40 spray features (3), a zero-depth activity pool with a beach entry, lazy river and two water slides (4), a family whirlpool (5) and an adult whirlpool (6).

The facility was developed with an eye toward the future. Designers planned for longevity accounting for operational costs, maintenance and other factors. For example, features from the play structure were constructed from stainless steel to provide ultimate durability and low maintenance costs. Additional costs saving measures include VFD drives on swimming pool circulation pumps and designing slides that terminate into deceleration lanes and the activity pool and lazy river, minimizing the need of additional staff.

The aquatics area itself was built as part of a multi-phase renovation project. At the time of construction finding construction personnel available to bid on the job was difficult because of the high volume of ongoing work nearby. To resolve this issue designers opted for a pre-engineered modular pool system, providing durability and high performance characteristics, while minimizing the need for additional trades people for construction and ceramic tiling.

Overall, the size of the project was extensive given the population of Fort McMurray. The mix of features provides inter-generational appeal while accommodating a spectrum of activities including family, learn-to-swim, wellness and therapy, high-end competition and water sports.

To create a sense of escape, developers chose a Caribbean tone for the venue. A tropical-like environment was created using theming and natural light (which also reduced energy and operational costs).


Opened: 2010

Cost: $9.7 million

Aquatic space: 55,000 square feet

Dream amenities: A 10-lane Olympic-sized pool with a 3-meter and two 1-meter spring boards; a 4-lane, warm-water training pool; an indoor family spraypark; two large water slides with a run-out pool; a family whirlpool spa; an adult whirlpool spa, steam room and sauna.


  • Dream Designer: Vortex Aquatic Structures Intl.
  • Architect: Vortex Aquatic Structures Intl.
  • Aquatic Designer: Water Technology
  • Contractor: Stuart Olson Constructors Mc.
  • Pool Contractor: Master Pools Alta Ltd.


  • Duraflex Intl.: Diving boards
  • Myrtha Pools USA: Pool
  • Neptune-Benson: Filters
  • Vortex Aquatic Structures Intl.: Water-play equipment
  • Whitewater West Industries: Slides