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Harrison Council backs tourism board for grant application

The $100K grant may fund upgrades along lakeside electric grid
Lights by the Lake prompted a grant application from Tourism Harrison River Valley, asking the province for $100,000 to upgrade the lakeside electric grid for future expansion. (File Photo)

Tourism Harrison River Valley is hoping to move forward on another significant project.

The local tourism board asked for support for a $100,000 grant application from the Harrison Hot Springs Village Council, which they granted unanimously during the Dec. 5 meeting on Monday evening.

According to a letter from Tourism Harrison River Valley executive director Robert Reyerse, Lights by the Lake was very successful last year, bringing in both day trippers and overnight guests, increasing overnight room stays in the community by 3,000 nights.

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However, as Lights by the Lake grows, Reyerse wrote the current lakefront electrical grid is “experiencing capacity limitations” and he believes “an upgrade would be helpful for both Lights by the Lake as well as other events that may take place along the lakefront in the future.”

If successful, the $100,000 would come from $30 million set aside by the province to support development and revival of the hard-hit tourism industry, including infrastructure elements. The prospective $100,000 grant for Tourism Harrison River Valley would cover the entire projected cost based on consultation from an area electric company.

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In other council business:

- The council will host a Committee of the Whole meeting to review the Code of Conduct. According to the new Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act No. 2 passed in 2021, the new council must, within six months of its tenure, decide to establish a Code of Conduct or review the existing code. Mayor Wood declared a conflict of interest “for confidential reasons” and did not take part in the discussion of the staff report.

A Committee of the Whole meeting is a slightly different format than a standard council meeting. The format allows for more relaxed discussion in which councillors may discuss agenda items. However, the final decisions are to be made during regular council meetings.

A date to discuss the Code of Conduct has not yet been publicized, but it will be open to the public.

- Mayor Ed Wood is looking into when the village should hire a full-time fire chief and manager of public safety. The last time the position was filled was in 2016.

“A full-time fire chief/manager of public safety is required so that the community can be proactive in its due diligence, take steps to reduce public risk and protect public health and safety,” Wood stated. Wood added the rapid growth of the village between 2016 and 2022 (1,468 people to 1,905, a 29-per cent jump) and the resulting densification warrants a look into bolstering emergency preparedness,

- Coun. Allan Jackson said he is in touch with B.C. Communities in Bloom concerning the first steps of bringing back the local Communities in Bloom organization, which Wood discussed at a previous council meeting. The next steps will include recruiting volunteers in the new year and coming up with a budget.

The next regular Harrison Hot Springs Village Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at Memorial Hall (290 Esplanade Avenue). Online attendance is also available via Zoom; those interested can register through Video recordings of the meetings will be archived on the village’s YouTube page.