Pay parking could help pay for beach maintenance

Vacationers could help with costs of keeping Harrison a tourism destination

Residents may be interested to learn that the Village of Harrison Hot Springs Finance Department calculates that over the last three years it has cost taxpayers in excess of $35,000 each year, on average, just to maintain the washrooms at the beach and the boat launch. All together maintaining the municipal plaza and waterfront, including providing garbage pickup, grass mowing, beach grading, submerged weed removal in the lagoon and maintaining the washrooms, has cost on average $142,667 each of the last three years. This is a hefty annual sum which is paid for from the village residential and business tax base.

Although these may be tough times for some businesses it could be argued that it is better to operate a business in Harrison Hot Springs than in most other Fraser Valley towns. Take into account that Tourism Harrison receives approximately $300,000 annually from the 2 per cent hotel tax ($1.5 million over 5 years) which it effectively uses to market Harrison Hot Springs as a vacation destination. This is a significant boost from which the Harrison business community is a net beneficiary in tourism attraction promotion at no direct cost. Businesses in Cultus Lake or Hope or Agassiz, for example, do not benefit from such a business supportive financial program because these municipalities are not designated resort communities. Nevertheless Cultus Lake has pay parking and raises $100,000 a year in fees, which would be enough to make a significant contribution to the cost of beach maintenance and improvements here in the Village, presently paid for by all tax payers.

To make pay parking during the summer months more acceptable perhaps the Village could designate an area, such as the municipal lot at Hot Springs Road and Miami River Blvd, a free parking lot, similar to what they have in Whistler, so that day visitors could walk the short distance to the waterfront, if they do not wish to pay for parking.  In addition perhaps Village home owners and each business could be allocated one or two parking decals for their vehicles to enable them (or their employees) to park for free on Esplanade or Lillooet.

Interestingly the vacationers staying at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa, the Harrison Beach Hotel and the Ramada Inn pay for parking and they do not appear to be dissuaded from shopping or eating in the business establishments along Esplanade or in the Village Mall, which has its own free parking.

Hopefully business owners and residents can come together and agree on a solution to how to pay for the rising cost of maintaining our shared waterfront, enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. Is it too much to ask day visitors to help defray the cost of maintaining our pristine waterfront recreational area and help to keep our business and residential taxes from increasing?

 

Murray Hardie

Harrison Hot Springs