For at least 40 years, Harrison resident John Allen has ran in Village of Harrison elections, and this year will be no different.
Allen has announced he is running for the position of mayor in the upcoming October election with a campaign to “take back our village!!”
A long-time Fraser Valley local, Allen was living in Chilliwack when he purchased a home in Harrison in 1976, and the mayor-hopeful has lived in the community ever since.
Well-known in Harrison for his ownership of the Harrison Country Club and his involvement in a number of clubs and organizations, Allen is also a regular attendee at local council meetings where he is rarely shy about his political opinions.
The long-time resident served three two-year terms as mayor of Harrison from 1978 to 1983 and was elected in a byelection for third term from 2003 to 2005. He also served at least two terms as a Village councillor.
|Allen’s resume includes “experience in many roles in BC’s tourism industry.” (Submitted)|
During his time in office, Allen claims responsibility for the creation of the Chamber of Commerce, the local historical society and even the Plaza design. Allen also says he oversaw the purchase of the Ranger Station (now the art gallery) and the historical building that became the Village’s municipal office.
It’s been over a decade since his last term as mayor, but Allen told the Observer that he continues to run year after year because he has a strong vision for the community and fears what might become of it if he doesn’t intervene.
“I care deeply about the Village of Harrison Hot Springs and what’s happening to it,” he said. “Having invested 42 years of my life in the community, I hate to see it going the way it’s going at the moment and I think it needs to be put back onto a stable planning track, where the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the zoning bylaw actually mean something.”
In fact, adhering to the OCP is a top priority for Allen, who claims the document has been neglected during past planning and development decisions.
“I’m in favour of orderly development, and orderly development is a development that we, the community, have set out in the official community plan…The plan should be a commitment.”
Allen said another priority is “restoring civic rights.”
He proposes that if elected, he will bring back audio recordings of every council meeting and make the recordings publicly available, as well as provide a 15-minute informal “Ask the Mayor” question session before each meeting.
“I want to give the public a chance to have some input or question time on agenda items the council is about to discuss or vote on…” he said.
Allen will also prioritize a number of, what he calls, “housekeeping measures.”
These include, but are not limited to, cleaning up the Harrison Lagoon and beach, painting local crosswalks, eliminating “sewer stink,” “restoring the boat launch revenue stream” and creating a new off-leash dog park.
“The Village has liability issues when such things are neglected,” said Allen, who says he will focus on public safety and upkeep. The mayor-hopeful also proposes the removal of all undergrowth in the forested areas of Harrison to prevent future wildfires from spreading into the Village.
Allen says he has the “necessary knowledge, ability, management skills, dedication and resolve” to bring a fresh start and overhaul to community goals for the Village.
Municipal elections across B.C. are slated for Oct. 20. Only one other candidate, current mayor Leo Facio has come forward to announce his intention to run in the Harrison Hot Springs election this fall.
Individuals are not confirmed candidates until the end of the election nomination period Sept. 14, after they have submitted all the required information in the nomination package and have been declared a candidate by the local chief election officer.
Election-related dates in 2018:
– Municipal election period: Jan. 1 to Sept. 21
– Nomination period: Sept. 4 to Sept. 14
– Campaign period: Sept. 22 to Oct. 20
– General Voting Day: Saturday, Oct. 20
UPDATED: A previous version of this article stated Allen had served as mayor from 2006 to 2007. This has been corrected to reflect his actual terms served.