Kingswood Ventures Inc. is getting $500,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to build an indoor water park and upgrade other buildings and parking facilities at its resort near Fredericton.
It is part of a $42-million entertainment complex expansion that includes a new resort hotel that is opening next year, says Brian Johnson, president of Kingswood Ventures Inc.
“With the hotel and the water park, we’re going to be creating 130 jobs,” he said in an interview on Friday afternoon. “The economic impact for Fredericton annually is about $18 million when it’s done. “My goal is that Kingswood would be the No.1 urban resort in Atlantic Canada that everyone would know and everyone would want to visit.” He said he wants to eliminate Fredericton’s reputation as the drive-by capital of the drive-through province.
In addition to the ACOA money, Kingswood is investing $1.5 million on new equipment for the water park, building modifications, parking and additional facilities. The ACOA money is a refundable loan, said Johnson. He said the indoor water park will be 1,400 square metres or 15,000 square feet. “It has four slides on it. It’s 28 feet high” said Johnson. “When you come off a slide, you don’t go into a (swimming) pool. You go into a little landing pool. It’s almost like a TreeGO maze. You go through different levels and different obstacles and different challenges. There’s 76 different water features. It’s for all ages, adults and kids. There’s interactive things, maybe water guns for shooting each other. It will hold about 350 people.”
To make room for the water park inside the main Kingswood building, Johnson said the adjacent golf course’s maintenance equipment storage facility will be relocated to a new building. “The water park is going to take us three months to install in the Kingswood building,” he said. “The hotel is going to connect directly to the Kingswood entertainment centre.” The hotel and the water park will both open in June of 2016, he said. Johnson said he first started planning the ambitious expansion project in 2010. “It feels good,” he said about Friday’s announcement. “It’s been a lot of work” Johnson said he can’t reveal any details about the hotel yet. “The hotel’s going to have a separate announcement,” he said. “It’s a brand-new line of hotels. They want to come up and do a full, separate press announcement. It’s an upscale hotel, 4.5-star, and that (announcement) will be coming soon. We’ve already broken ground on the hotel”
Johnson said the new hotel will be the first of its kind in Canada. He also said he is using local construction companies on the project whenever possible. “Local companies did a lot of the engineering work on the site,” said Johnson. “I’m trying to keep all these dollars in the Fredericton economy.” Johnson said the $42-million value of the overall project doesn’t include another 90 units of planned condominiums, which are worth another $10 million.
Kingswood is currently building 38 townhouses, and Johnson said he wants to see how the sales of those townhouses go before making a decision on the condos.
Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield announced the ACOA funding on Friday at a news conference. “The project is a new hotel and a water theme park. It’s a great announcement,” said Ashfield in an interview Friday afternoon. “It’s going to generate probably an additional 130 jobs, I think is what Mr. Johnson mentioned in his presentation, new jobs in the city of Fredericton.” Not only will there be construction jobs in the construction phase, but also ongoing continuous work for a lot of people,” said Ashfield. “There’s over 200 there now at the Kingswood facility. This is really good news for the province,” he said. “It’s surprising the numbers we see in tourism; almost 1.4 million people came to the Fredericton region last year and generated over $200 million worth of activity."
“It’s important for us here and it’s important for the province.” Fredericton Deputy Mayor Eric Megarity said the funding and the project was great news for the capital. “It’s finally coming together,” he said. “They’re going to go forward on a project that is going to tourists into the region, so it’s good for the region. And 130 new jobs, that’s fantastic.”
Kingswood Ventures Inc. will undergo a $2 million expansion, including a new hotel and indoor water park, with the assistance of a $500,000 repayable loan from ACOA. The announcement was made at a press conference at the facility near Fredericton on Friday. Left is Brian Johnson, president of Kingswood Ventures Inc., and right is Fredericton Conservative MP Keith Ashfield.
ARTICLE: STEPHEN LLEWELLYN, THE DAILY GLEANER
PHOTO: STEPHEN MACGILLIVRAY, Submitted