Few things are more fun than going to a waterpark on a hot, humid summer day. Be it zipping down a multi-storey water slide or floating along the lazy river, a visit to a waterpark is a great way to beat the summer heat and have some laughs.
But Dwayne (he prefers his last name be kept confidential) of Oakville, Ont., is not amused by the way in which Wild Waterworks in Hamilton operates. Indeed, when Dwayne takes his 11-year-old daughter to the park, staffers are extremely diligent about deriving personal information from Dwayne and his daughter, information that is equal parts inexplicable and ridiculous.
For example, Dwayne is a 47-year-old bearded man. It is obvious that he is male. And yet, before he can take a ride on a waterslide, he is asked if he is... pregnant?
As for his daughter, an 11-year-old girl, she too is asked if she is pregnant. As well, the daughter, who weighs about 60 lbs., is asked if she is over 300 lbs. or 400 lbs. (depending on the weight-threshold of the attraction). And she is also asked if she is taking any drugs. Repeatedly.
Dwayne became increasingly miffed by the intrusive and ridiculous questioning, so he reached out to the manager of Wild Waterworks, Sara Kinnear She/Her. Ms. Kinnear She/Her offered him the following response: “I understand your concern, however, we have had inspectors ‘secret shop’ the park and given us warnings because staff were not saying the required verbiage to each patron.”
Fascinating. There are inspectors who “secret shop” the park? There are actually people who are essentially spying on staff to make certain that staffers are asking bearded males if they are pregnant? What the hell?
So, we reached out to Sara Kinnear She/Her and she was a most reluctant interviewee. But she did say that the waterslide spies were staffers with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, an Ontario regulatory authority. These folks inspect everything from nuclear reactors to rollercoasters — we wonder if male rollercoaster patrons are now asked if they are preggers, too?
Kinnear She/Her said that all other questions had to be answered by her superior, Bruce Harschnitz (Wild Waterworks is owned by the City of Hamilton and operated by the Hamilton Conservation Authority.) Mr. Harschnitz did not return numerous calls and emails; perhaps he was too busy conducting a pregnancy test for himself.
We then reached out to Alexandra Campbell, the corporate communications person at the TSSA. Alas, Campbell is yet another one of those communications persons who simply cannot be bothered to communicate. (And the question arises: why does she have a job in the first place?)
But it gets better: we visited the head office of TSSA in Toronto. We simply wanted to know if Sara Kinnear She/Her was telling the truth – you know, that TSSA inspectors are obsessed with the pregnancy status of bearded males and the weight and potential drug use of little girls.
Incredibly, as we filmed an introduction outside the TSSA office, we were approached by a security guard and someone who claimed she was a private investigator, although she did not present her credentials. This dynamic duo informed us that we had to leave or face trespassing charges!
So, we are left pondering: is Sara Kinnear She/Her telling the truth when it comes to TSSA inspectors? And why does the TSSA operate in such secrecy?
Incidentally, perhaps Wild Waterworks has more pressing issues to deal with than asking a bearded male if he is in possession of a uterus. Indeed, consultants recently recommended that Wild Waterworks receive a $40-million upgrade to ensure that this 35-year-old park stays afloat in coming years.
The report noted that the attractions and infrastructure are “having difficulty functioning under the stress of peak attendance days.”
But apparently asking surreal questions of patrons is more important than actually making certain the park is structurally sound. Amazing.