Visitors enjoy Sandy Cove

Harrison Council seeks limits to downtown parking

"It's overdue," says village Mayor Leo Facio in special Council meeting to discuss the issue

If you want to spend a day at the beach in Harrison, don’t park on Esplande Ave.

That’s the message coming out based on discussions at a recent special Council meeting. The meeting’s sole agenda was to discuss parking in the village.

Parking is not a new problem, stated Mayor Leo Facio. But it is a problem that he wanted dealt with before this year’s peak tourism season.

“There’s ongoing problems with parking on streets,” Facio said. “This is something we’d like to implement this year, try it out and see what happens. It’s overdue.”

Parking problems stem from several sources: hotel guests who choose to park on the streets, beach goers who park in front of businesses along the main business street and the sheer volume of visitors on a beautiful weekend all trying to find space to park in an area with limited stalls.

Several hot spots were identified, including all of Esplanade Ave., especially block one, Lilloeet West and side streets leading to Esplanade. Councillor Samantha Piper, who attended the mid-day meeting via speakerphone, cited the example of Spruce Street. That road can be filled with boat trailers and vehicles on busy weekends, causing difficulty for passenger vehicles to get through.

“It creates some potential unsafe intersection concerns,” said Piper.

All councillors were in agreement on limits to parking. Council members would like to see Esplanade Ave. restricted to two-hour maximum parking, along with several side streets including Spruce, Maple and Chehalis and Lillooet Ave. West. Council also discussed the idea of limiting parking time on Lilloett Ave. East to four hours.

While Harrison is a tourism destination for beach goers, Council members wanted to ensure that there is parking available in front of businesses along Esplande for easy access by paying customers to stores and restaurants.

“One of our concerns is creating turnover for those local businesses,” said Councillor Sonja Reyerse. “It’s not about giving the people that are going to the beach and potentially not spending any money in the stores enough time to enjoy the sand and sun.”

Facio pointed out that the grass-covered lot directly north of the village office, bordering Hot Springs Road and Miami River Drive, is available to park all day and is only a short walk from the beach.

The issue of space for more parking stalls was discussed. CAO Ian Crane reported on the recent acquisition of a lot by the Village, a “large tract” running north-south, from Driftwood Ave. down to the intersection of Rockwell Drive and Lilloett Ave. The lot was owned by Kingma Bros. Developments but was recently subdivided, with part of the subdivision “gifted” to the Village, according to Crane.

“It’s a very large area,” said Crane, but added there is no budget to make improvements on the land this year. However, depending on further discussions, that lot could be turned into something such as more parking stalls in the future.

Other issues related to parking that were discussed included bylaw enforcement, signage and affects on businesses and local restaurants. Councillor John Hansen emphasized that enforcement will have to follow any new rules put in place.

“You cannot rely on self-policing. It just doesn’t work,” he stated. “I think we’ll go into the hole trying to enforce it.”

This is not the final word from Council on the subject as they have now directed staff to prepare a report for Council, to be presented at a later Council meeting.