TORONTO - It might have created a splash felt across Canada, but many who got their first glimpse of the fake G20 lake Wednesday agreed it should have caused little more than a ripple.
Most viewing the water feature at the summit media centre in Toronto said the glorified splash pool was a lot smaller than expected and barely deserved the flood of media coverage it got.
"This is what we're talking about? I've spilled more water in a plumbing accident," said an incredulous Claude Doughty, mayor of Huntsville, Ont.
"I find it quite modest compared to what I'd imagined. It's totally appropriate."
Word a few weeks ago that the government was spending more than $2 million to create a fake cottage-country lake caused huge waves.
Critics latched onto the cost to denounce the government's priorities as all wet, especially in light of the $1-billion tab for summit security.
That the cost was closer to $57,000 — along with government protestations that it was only showcasing a piece of Canada — did little to pour cold water on the controversy.
That changed Wednesday, as the summit media centre opened and reporters from around the world trickled in.
The much discussed "lake" turned out to be little more than a shallow wading pool — about 10 metres across at its widest — surrounded by a cedar deck.
On a huge screen behind it, moving images of Ontario's Muskoka region played, while bird, loon and other sounds playing through loud speakers added to the faux ambience.
Reporters rushing to see what the fuss had been about seemed bemused there had been much ado at all.
Nico Maounis, with the Associated Press in New York, called the set up "fantastic."
"It's the perfect space for journalists to relax," said Maounis as he lounged on a Muskoka chair next to the pool with its finger-deep water.
"It's really cool. I've never seen anything like it."
Katia Kharina, working for the Belarus tut.by Internet portal said she liked it, and didn't think it cost that much money.
One Canadian TV channel promptly produced a show from the deck, creating exactly the kind of backdrop the government was hoping for, while others gingerly dipped their toes in the refreshing water.
Meredith Alexander, an anti-poverty activist who is writing for a London-based weekly, was less impressed.
"It's nice they've made a little bit of an effort, but like most people here, I'm really interested in the issues," Alexander said.
"I want to know what global leaders are actually going to do about things that matter to all of us . . . what Muskoka looks like is a lot less important to me."
Gus Valcarcel, with the Associated Press in Mexico City, also called the feature "very nice."
He did have some reservations about the cost.
"Spending that amount of money to do this is probably too much," he said.