Village councillors had heated words to say about the beachfront bandstand after a staff proposal to upgrade the facility was presented.
Lisa Grant, manager of development and community services, presented a suggestion that the Village of Harrison Hot Springs apply for funding through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure program. Given the short timeline to apply and the criteria listed for projects, Grant told Council that staff had to think of projects that are “shelf-ready.”
Staff also wanted to look at projects that would not require general revenue or borrowing for the village’s half of the total project cost.
A bandstand revitalization project fit the bill. The bandstand is a large, open-air structure on the beachfront at the intersection of Esplanade Ave. and Maple Street. According to the staff report, the bandstand project was planned in concept as part of phase 2 of the Esplanade Avenue street-scape improvement project. The bandstand has “functioned well over the years,” Grant writes in the report, but adds that improvements will provide a “greater sense of place and act as an anchor on the waterfront.”
The proposed improvements were estimated to cost $148,000, with the village’s $74,000 to be covered by Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funds.
Councillor Sonja Reyerse was first out the gate with her reaction.
“I feel like we’re throwing good money after bad,” she said.
The bandstand, as an outdoor structure, is only usable two to four months a year, and the village already has a separate bandstand (at the intersection of Hot Springs Road and Esplanade Ave.) not being utilized, Reyerse added. She remarked that if the $74,000 was put towards something like a Sasquatch museum, it would be money better spent as it would give visitors a year-round activity.
Councillor John Buckley was next in line, saying the bandstand is not really functional, it faces the wrong way and does not provide “good seats” for attendees that don’t get there first.
“I’m not in favour of spending a nickel on it,” said Buckley.
Councillor John Hansen echoed Reyerse’s statements, and Councillor Samantha Piper questioned why the village would consider upgrading a new facility instead of projects like the docks that are in “dire need” of repairs.
Mayor Leo Facio proposed the Village put in the application for the bandstand upgrade, then suggest “re-scoping” for a different project after they have applied. Hansen agreed with Facio’s proposal, saying if the Village gets the grant and asks to re-scope but is denied, they have not lost anything through the process.
Reyerse said go ahead with applying, but if the grant is awarded to the village, she has no intention of supporting the bandstand project.
Council voted in favour to apply for the funding, with the understanding they would suggest a different project if the grant is approved.
The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure program is a federal funding program to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. The federal government is encouraging projects that will create a legacy to mark this milestone. The District of Kent recently applied for funding through this program as well, to build a splash park in Agassiz.