The most recent, two-day Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting in Harrison Hot Springs saw council come to a consensus on a number of important items.
Councillors voted 4-1 to increase remuneration for mayor and council by 30 per cent; Mayor Ed Wood was opposed. Additionally, council also approved a $10 increase per meal, a cell phone usage allowance as well as the option of being provided a village-issued laptop or an annual $1,000 allowance to conduct municipal business on personal computers.
According to the draft 2023-2027 five-year financial plan, Remuneration for mayor and council plus “other legislative expenses came out to $115,957; the 2023 budget calls for $162,005 for remuneration.
The council last reviewed the remuneration policy three years ago, at which time the decision was forwarded to the 2023 term. At the time, compensation for mayor and council hadn’t been increased since 2011, standing at $15,000 per year for councillors and $30,000 per year for the mayor.
In other CoW business, council voted 4-1 to set the long-term pay parking rates (Zone 2) at $5 per hour and $20 per day, Coun. John Buckley casting the opposing vote.
Last year’s parking rates in Zone 2, (Esplanade Avenue, streets between Esplanade Avenue and Lillooet Avenues, including Maple Street, Chehalis Street and Spruce Street) the cost was $3 per hour or $12 per day. Pay parking for four hours in Zone 1 (St. Alice Street, Hot Springs Road, Esplanade Avenue west of Hot Springs Road) was $2 for hour one, $3 for hour 2, $4 for hour 3 and $5 for hour 4, totalling $14 for a maximum of four hours.
There are no changes to Zone 1 parking fees as of publication.
The basis of the increase falls on a parking master plan council received last year, stating that there is a shortage of about 60 parking stalls in peak areas. Despite resident and tourist concerns to the contrary, the study states there is technically parking available throughout the village even during the high season, but the parking within a certain radius of Harrison Lake’s waterfront remains in high demand.
The study indicated a one-per cent increase in price would result in 0.37 per cent decrease in parking demand. By those figures, the proposed 40-per cent hike could, in theory, drop demand by nearly 15 per cent.
Council unanimously approved expanding pay parking to include Lillooet Avenue west of Hot Springs Road in Zone 1. A motion failed to increase Zone 2 paid parking to include Cedar Avenue and Maple Street south of Lillooet Avenue, opposed by Mayor Ed Wood, Buckley and Coun. Allan Jackson.
A majority of councillors approved seeking further public engagement for off-leash dog parks in Harrison and canvassing adjacent properties for both proposed locations at McCoombs Drive and vacant land north of the Village Office. Wood was opposed.
A report from community services manager and then-acting deputy corporate officer Rhonda Schell states that the McCombs Drive location spans one acre and is not adjacent to any homes and it is nearby the walking trail adjacent to McCombs, which is already frequented by local dog walkers. However, some trees might pose a danger at this point and would need to be assessed should village officials move forward at that location. About 20 per cent of respondents of a 2021 off-leash dog park survey wanted a park at this location.
Conversely, 3 per cent of respondents in the same off-leash dog park survey wanted it at the Hot Springs Road location. While these lots are properly zoned for the park, the lots are also currently used for overflow parking during special events. This location would give the dog park about a half-acre of room.
There are a number of ways council can handle decisions made at a CoW meeting. In the case of Tuesday’s meeting, the decisions were adopted through adopting the CoW meeting minutes at the regular meeting. According village bylaw on council proceedings, a resolution to adopt the minutes of a CoW meeting “shall constitute ratification of all motions therein.”