Dublin’s white-water rafting project could be in deep water

Dublin’s white-water rafting facility was met with a lot of backlash when it was first announced. Eibhin Kavanagh looks at what the White-Water Rafting facility could be in a post-Covid world.

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Dublin’s white-water rafting facility could be in deep waters in a post-Covid environment.

The controversial facility, costing €22 million, would be used for training for emergency services including Dublin Fire Brigade, who asked councillors to support the proposal. When first announced, the facility was met with controversy.

Criticisms for the project were related to the plans being announced in a housing and homelessness crisis.

Construction on the white water facility was initially meant to start at the end of 2020, however the project has been delayed into 2021 to consider the price of construction going forward.

Given the current pandemic and economic uncertainty, some councillors who initially supported the project have had a change of heart.

Initially costing €12 million, the project increased to €22 million because of additional elements such as a water treatment plant and construction of two new buildings instead of using the Dublin Docklands Development Authority building.

Councillor Christy Burke said: “As of now, I believe the project can’t go ahead.”

Burke , who is chair of the Central Area Committee, initially supported the project and believes it would create local jobs in the area for construction and for instructors.

The facility has been postponed into 2021 to discuss the cost of the project. Burke believes the facility can’t go ahead “given the cost now and the fact the Dublin City Council budget is shortfall of about €40 million.”

The initial proposal was passed by 37 votes in favour to 19 against.

“My support for it would be no,” Burke said.

The breakdown of the funding for the project consisted of €13 million in government grants, €4.9 million in development levies and €4 million from capital reserves.

A €6.6 million grant was refused by the government in January, before the coronavirus pandemic. In a post coronavirus environment, funding the facility may be a problem.

“The budget is down by millions for next year,” Burke said.

Emergency services including the fire brigade and gardai would use the facility for training for rescue in flooding, and from submerged cars. These courses can cost up to €20,000 in Ireland at present.

It was projected last year that the facility would attract 36,000 visitors a year, according to area manager Derek Kelly. Charging  €50 per head would result in a profit turn from the second year of the facility. The project has been compared to a similar facility in Cardiff.

Cardiff International White Water is located in the International Sports village in Cardiff. It offers courses in water rescue, similar to the proposed plans in Dublin. This Olympic standard white water rafting and indoor wave facility attracts around 85,000 visitors a year.

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