The ground has ceremonially been broken as Harrison Hot Springs looks forward to the new, expanded Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum.
Village officials, members of the District of Kent council and other members of the tourism community gathered early Wednesday (Nov. 2) morning to break ground at 499 Hot Springs Road. The former Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum has been demolished and construction on the new building has officially begun.
Tourism Harrison River Valley executive director Robert Reyerse said while construction is about six weeks behind schedule, the anticipation grows as a true indoor attraction for the resort community starts to take shape.
Harrison Hot Springs resident and mayoral candidate John Allen stepped up to purchase the building for $20,000 on the condition the building was moved from the property within 30 days. The property was not moved in the agreed-upon time and the contract expired. The village refunded the $20,000.
A $1 million grant from a province-wide, initiative from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport will fund an entirely new, two-storey building that would allow more square footage for both the Visitor Centre and the Sasquatch Museum. The million-dollar grant was part of a larger B.C.-wide investment of $21.3 million toward shovel-ready tourism projects. The Ministry of Tourism called the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum “A key attraction that celebrates Harrison’s long history with the Sasquatch and the Sts’ailes people.” There were 55 projects across the province that received funding through this investment.
The new space would not only accent the museum as an indoor activity but to expand its exhibits, potentially including local First Nations history. Reyerse said the new attraction draws inspiration from visitor centres throughout the Interior, including Tofino, Osoyoos and Kelowna. Tourism Harrison and local companies Precision Building Design and Kurts Construction have collaborated on a design “that pays homage to Harrison’s Indigenous and historical roots while creating a building that is functional for the future and accessible to all,” Reyerse said in a previously-released statement.
The project would increase the space for the museum alone by more than 10 times, going from 120 square feet to 1,300 square feet.
The former building used to be a logging bunkhouse built in the 1930s before being donated to the village in 1950, where it served as the village office. The village office was moved a couple of doors down to 495 Hot Springs Road in the 1980s, when the Visitor Centre and ultimately the Sasquatch Museum moved in. Earlier in the year, officials deemed the building unsuitable for municipal use.
The museum attracts thousands of visitors per year and is currently one of a few indoor attractions in Harrison Hot Springs.