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Harrison by-election countdown officially begins

By-election to cost about $40,000, paid by taxes
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A by-election is coming for Harrison Hot Springs as council approved election officers on Monday (July 8).

Harrison Village Council began preparations to elect a new mayor during their meeting on Monday (July 8) evening. 

Council unanimously approved appointing Kelly Ridley as chief election officer for the 2024 by-election; Tyson Koch and Amanda Graham would serve as deputy election officers. 

It's estimated the cost of the by-election would be between $30,000 and $40,000, to be paid through taxation. 

Ridley was the interim CAO following Madeline McDonald's departure. Ridley left the position in June 2023, and Koch eventually filled the role. Graham currently serves as the village's corporate officer.

Former Harrison mayor Ed Wood resigned on June 10, effective immediately. Leo Facio succeeded Wood and will serve as acting mayor until the by-election. 

The date of the by-election has not yet been confirmed. However, the village now has 80 days to hold the by-election; the last possible date for the vote would be Sept. 21, according to Graham. 

In other council business:  

- Coun. John Allen asked for a late item to be added to the agenda concerning the location of council meetings. Council meetings are at village hall for the next two months due to events using Memorial Hall in the summer, including the upcoming Harrison Festival of the Arts.

The motion failed due to a lack of a seconder. Allen claimed the meeting moving to the smaller venue was in contravention to the Community Charter.

In the past, a number of residents, including Allen, have spoken out against council's intentions to eventually move back to the village office from Memorial Hall on a permanent basis as it is significantly smaller and does not allow for space for the number of people who typically attend in-person. Council has not decisively stated that all meetings will go back to the original council chambers as almost all of the public meetings have been conducted at Memorial Hall since then. 

- Council voted 4-0 to approve allocating up to $20,000 to install a SenseNet wildfire detection system. This would pay for three cameras, 100 sensors and five gateways. The cost was originally $15,000, but staff suggested allocating more in the event of unforeseen costs. 

Koch told council it was not known when the system would be operational. 

When he was in office, Wood attempted to secure a contract for a Sensenet system on his own, trying to use the powers of a state of local emergency and approve the contract without council's knowledge or consent. 

- Coun. Michie Vidal reported to council that "local ambassador" Todd Richard was recently honoured at the Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department as an honorary firefighter. 

"I can't think of a more deserving individual," Vidal said. "Well done, Todd." 

- Council has requested that village staff work with members of the Advisory Planning Commission to develop terms of reference, procedures and reporting. Graham said the village has received four applications as of Monday, July 8. The APC is designed to work with council on matters of land use, community planning and bylaws.  

- Council went into a short recess during the meeting due to technical difficulties with the camera broadcasting the meeting on Zoom. After a few minutes, the camera was fixed and the meeting proceeded as normal.

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The next regular Harrison Hot Springs Village Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 8 at 7 p.m. at the village office (495 Hot Springs Road). The meetings throughout the summer will be held at the village office council chambers, which has a limited capacity of 18 people. Registration for an in-person spot is available at www.harrisonhotsprings.ca. 

Online attendance is also available via Zoom; those interested can register through the village's website. Video recordings of the meetings will be archived on the village’s YouTube page.

 

 



Adam Louis

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