Q & A with Harrison Hot Springs councillor candidates


Q & A with Harrison Hot Springs councillor candidates

Village councillor-hopefuls answer the Observer’s questions

Questions for Village of Harrison councillor candidates:

1. What two qualities make you best suited for a role as a community leader?

2. Where do you see opportunity for growth in Harrison Hot Springs?

3. Name two key strategies you plan to use to ensure the spending of tax dollars reflects the wants and needs of the community.

4. Where do you stand on the quarry proposal set to be developed close to Harrison?

Samantha Piper


1. My best qualities include my level of integrity and my decision-making capabilities. In every decision I make as a community leader, I make from the foundation of; is this the best decision for the community as a whole? I deeply value and conduct myself through honesty, effective communication, knowledge, kindness and doing the right thing.

2. I believe we as residents live in the Village because of its environmental beauty, recreational opportunities and strong sense of community and culture. This uniqueness should be retained while we look ahead. Tourism and a diverse business base go hand in hand. Attracting unique and additional destination desired businesses and events is one segment to assist with growth in the Village.

3. Two essential strategies will be public engagement and maintaining relationships with all levels of government. A variety of engagement activities and efforts, including need assessment surveys, will ensure that the voice of the community is received and implemented into decision making for the community.

4. I do not support the quarry. The Fraser River is rich with sand and gravel. Empowering our neighbouring indigenous communities by issuing gravel extraction permits will provide a supply source for industry demands eliminating any need, for a third quarry operation in the immediate area.

Zoltan Kiss


1. In 2007 I was on the Advisory Planning Commission during the final drafting of our Official Community Plan and I also lobbied passionately to minimize zoning changes via the Neighbourhood Study #2 on Echo Avenue. As a 20-year resident, I’ve observed more than 5 different Councils, and served as Councillor (2011-2014), participating on many committees, and gaining extensive experience that I can bring forward to the next council with an honest, open-minded and creative view.

2. Smart development to retain our Village’s quality and ambiance to include more green spaces, trees, and guidance over densities and locations; Upgrading the lagoon; Restoring the Miami River to accommodate a salmon enhancement program; Our own public hot springs pool by negotiating the resort’s current obligation to supply 10% of their water license to the public.

3. Advocate an open and recorded question and answer period to enable residents to input wants and needs to a receptive Council, with long term goals reflected in a new Official Community Plan and realistic spending…we live in a small village with a small budget…we must start living within our means and learn how to do more with less.

4. [I] clearly oppose the “quarry proposal” as it will impact our health and the ambiance of our Village. The Village must continue to strongly lobby against this even though it is outside our municipality.

Allan Jackson


1. My best qualities are leadership, and ability to work well with people. I have been a volunteer my whole life, from Boy Scout Leader, Baseball and Hockey coach as well as a community participant. I was on Harrison Council for nine years and through my leadership and tenacity introduced the Hotel Tax and Resort Municipal Initiative which has been a great Financial benefit to our community.

2. The best opportunity for growth in Harrison is in the Business/Commercial area.

3. My two key strategies would be to have better communication with the residents and businesses, as well as developing a spending plan for each year.

4. Totally opposed to the proposed quarry, this is not in any way compatible with our Community Environment and Values.

Michie Vidal


1. Leadership skills must include believing in your vision and goals, communicating them clearly and inspiring others to support them. Passion and commitment to my Community. Leading by example with a collaborative approach has been proven by my commitment to Friends of Agassiz & Harrison Hot Springs. My organization skills and willingness to work hard has earned the respect of community members opposed to the quarry proposal.

2. Harrison Hot Springs is experiencing a rapid transformation. Tourism is the key economical engine of our Village. We must work closely with Tourism Harrison to further develop our Village as a year round destination. This will encourage new and permanent businesses to our commercial and retail cores. The guidelines in our official OCP must be taken into consideration to support balanced and sustainable growth.

3. Community involvement and input is essential. One way to achieve this is to establish effective working committees. This provides Council a means to listen and review recommendations from our residential and business communities. Secondly, tax dollars must be spent wisely and with fiscal responsibility. New development increases our tax base and allows more opportunities to provide those services and amenities our residents require.

4. My stand on the proposed quarry permit is well known. As a founding member of the community based Friends of Agassiz & Harrison Hot Springs, the grassroots opposition to the quarry is continuing and growing. A quarry located just outside our Village will have devastating consequences to our economy and enjoyment of life.

Leslie Ghezesan


1. After obtaining five Canadian trades qualifications, I have successfully run my heating and plumbing business for the past 30 years, 15 of which have been based in Harrison Hot Springs, servicing this community. My integrity and honesty have resulted in a satisfied clientele. These two qualities are what I bring to council when I am elected.

2. Growth should be geared to enhance the Village rather than the pockets of developers. Harrison, already designated as a resort community, should expand ecotourism. When planned and organized well, we can conserve our environment and capitalize on the natural attractions of our landscape, like bird watching, nature photography, stargazing, water and wind sports, camping, hiking and fishing.

3. We should get our citizens MORE involved in the management of our village through delegation of committees and task forces, to help find the right formulas that work for enhancing our community while keeping the Village administration accountable.

4. This is a shameless act of disrespect by the quarry owners, who chose to act first before engaging with their neighbours, the communities of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. This project should not be approved by the authorities, but unfortunately authorities can be more inclined toward developers than citizens. If we all are loud enough, we should prevail.

Gerry Palmer


1. I believe that my skill sets, including my education and professional experience and community board background, are useful qualities that I would bring to council. Another useful quality is my non-confrontational, respectful and consensus-based approach to governance. I believe that a respectful discussion produces healthy compromise.

2. I see an opportunity to build on our strengths, which is our natural environment and our vibrant arts community. Additional off-prime season events could be funded through the Resort Municipality Initiative Funding, based on our local arts and indigenous communities, which would enhance tourism and provide activities for residents. I support the efforts of Tourism Harrison.

3. The Village government needs to be transparent and to function with citizen committees to bring forward priorities. I do believe property tax payer funded services need to be efficient and frugal. The high percentage of retirees in the Village creates a large number of tax payers on fixed incomes.

4. I oppose the quarry. Clearly the quarry development runs contrary to the spirit of Harrison Hot Springs being a resort municipality focused on tourism since the Quarry will negatively impact our strongest brand being our natural environment. The quarry is also objectionable for the obvious reasons: noise, dust, public health and road safety on our only entrance highway.

Ray Hooper


1. Dedication and Commitment that I have shown to this community over the past 10 years.

2. The village needs to control development ensuring it meets the needs of the community explaining it affects short/long term on the surrounding community. Supporting Tourism Harrison and creating new business opportunities for hotels and shops with the long-term vision of making Harrison Hot Springs an all year-round resort which will benefit the businesses and residents.

3. To reduce the high maintenance costs of the village and lobbying the government bodies for more financial assistance on large projects. And investigate how the finances are distributed and ensure that they are put to the best use for the benefit of the community.

4. I have been actively involved in the STOP THE QUARRY campaign. I have dedicated time and finance towards this cause and have written on numerous occasions to all the government bodies involved. The affect on Harrison and the surrounding area would impact greatly on our quality of life and the wild life that we need to protect for our children.

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