Getting to know civic election candidates in Harrison

Hot Springs election hopefuls answer questions about tourism, development and preservation of natural lands.

Question 1 Harrison

1)   How should the Village balance residential and business development with the preservation of natural lands?

John Allen

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs mayor

That balance is already in place in our Official Community Plan (OCP). We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over many years planning what Harrison will look like in the future. Our OCP says that we have enough land already zoned for development and that our woodlands must be preserved for the benefit of both residents and our only industry, tourism. Our “natural lands” are essential to the growth of business and population. People come to Harrison to enjoy good facilities in the midst of natural beauty. It is suicidal to consider destroying the one thing which makes Harrison work. Kingma wants to knock over our OCP, upset the balance and impose his self-serving profit plan for Harrison (Harrison Horizons). Any developer who respects this community and our plan for our village is welcome. Hit-and-run developers who want to score a quick profit by up-zoning at the expense of the whole community are not. I will stand up for Harrison, as I have always done. The East Sector Park will be Harrison’s equivalent of Stanley Park. Facio, Becotte and Co. inserted “weasel words” in the OCP which have opened the door to Kingma’s plan for a clear cut.  It’s time to close that door.

Ken Becotte

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs mayor (Incumbent)

Harrison Hot Springs is one of the most beautiful places in the world. As Mayor, I feel we all have a responsibility to preserve this beauty and maintain the wonderful gifts that nature has to offer. Our Council and staff have worked diligently to develop several initiatives that will move us closer to a sustainable community. Two neighbourhood plans have been completed and will help define future growth in our residential area. We have just introduced our Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, that when implemented will guide us for the next 30 years. We are the first community in BC to become Carbon Neutral for Green House Gas Emissions and we are the first community in Western Canada to participate in the Blue Flag program for our beaches and marinas. New business development is focussed on the Village Centre area and as it continues to develop will provide both a tourism economy and amenities for the residents.

Arnold Caruk

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs mayor

Where there currently is not a large residential base, (i.e. Hot Springs Rd) business should be expanded beyond the downtown core of Esplanade and Lillooet. Even there there is still room for commercial expansion.

Where residential expansion is being proposed on the east and west sides of Harrison, provision by the developers should be to provide for the extra infrastructure (namely water and sewer upgrades) as well as preserving and, or expanding the trails around Harrison. Park areas with amenities such as washrooms and possibly playground equipment should  be included if the number of units are 100 or greater.

Leo Facio

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs mayor

The balance of residential and business, is outlined in the OCP and how the natural areas should be preserved. And more recently the sustainable plan. Which still needs to be explained at length to the general public. Moving ahead for a sustainable Harrison is the challenge.

Leslie Ghezesan

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs mayor

Cap the corporation greed and stop the corporate development. Keep the Village as a retirement and seasonal resort with more campgrounds.

Stop the abusive use of environmental and fisheries act by incompetent employees!

Andrew Baziuk

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council

The natural beauty of Harrison is what makes this village special.

To live and visit in Harrison helps heal body and soul.  It is the main unifying theme of Harrison.  The natural nature of Harrison not only has to be preserved but also enhanced in both the residential areas, and in the village core. I support no urban development of any sort in the East quarter of the village.  I am of the opinion that we should strive to set aside these lands as a permanent park. I often walk the trails there and have seen things which cause me concern.  Example: 100 metres east of the intersection of McPherson Road and McCombs, there is driveway into the forest which leads to a large area of trails and cut lines.  I was dismayed to discover that this has now become a major dumping ground for dirt, rocks,

etc.  Some of this dumping seemed recent.  It is unfortunate that past Council has opened our village to more illegal dumping when it closed the green waste site.  It is inevitable that some people will use parks,

roadsides, and vacant lots as convenient waste disposals. I hope to re-open discussion on problematic dumping and encourage creative thinking to resolve this issue at Council level.

Dave Harris

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council (Incumbent)

Our Official Community Plan already establishes the balance for development and natural land preservation. The recently introduced Integrated Community Sustainability Plan provides additional safeguards to preserve our natural areas. The Village and Crown Lands in the East Sector will always have my support to be retained as park land with trail development to make the area more accessible to the public.

Allan Jackson

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council (Incumbent)

“Careful planning” and “proactive steps” must be taken to insure our natural resources (which are an asset to our Village) are positively impacted by any development.

Dave Kenyon


Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council (Incumbent)

Harrison’s beauty attracts our many visitors, these visitors are the backbone of our local economy. We must work to develop more sustainable year round business which attract a wide variety of visitors with the focus on eco-tourism to use and preserve our natural beauty.

Residential development must be guided by the village to use sustainable technology in their buildings. We must encourage all developers and builders to work around not through the beauty of our village. Where possible we need to keep green areas for now and the future.

Zoltan Kiss

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council

The residents have expressed their views in the Official Community Plan (OCP) bylaw dated March 13, 2007, which took three years to develop and complete. I was a member of the Advisory Planning Commission during the final drafting of that document. The OCP provides the direction for development of our Village for a minimum of 5 years with a long term land use outlook. New bylaws, public works, and new zoning must be consistent with the OCP. I would advocate for green belt spaces between new development to preserve as much natural land as possible. I would also strongly recommend more meaningful community input in this process than has taken place in the past. Our community must be cautious about where we allow new development if it’s at the expense of the little natural land we have left. Once the land is developed, it’s altered forever.

Sonja Reyerse-Peters

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council

Balancing development and preservation of our green space requires a shared vision, supporting bylaws and Council backbone. We need to develop a shared community vision that defines what the balance between development and green space should be. The recent sustainability project went a long way to doing just that.  We need to translate that vision into an updated Official Community Plan (OCP) with supporting bylaws. We need a new OCP that reflects our community’s view on a sustainable Village.  Lastly politicians must have the backbone to stand by the community plan and supporting bylaws, and not amend bylaws when a developer comes to town with money in his pocket and short term profit on his mind.

Richard Shelley

Candidate for: Harrison Hot Springs council

We must balance growth with residents that have lived in the neighborhood for years, newer residents, as well as long-standing and newer business development.

As an Information Technology professional, Realtor and Harrison Hot Springs firefighter I am very interested in development that uses land efficiently and protects undisturbed natural lands, allows a community to grow and still protect its natural lands. I’d also like to create a community that feels

empowered to communicate, weigh in, and help make decisions that ultimately help shape their backyard.


Question 2 Harrison

How would you propose to increase tourism activity for the community, and should this be a priority for the next term?

John Allen

I’ve been increasing tourism for the past 30 years and continue to do so today. The events and organisations I founded (Chamber of Commerce, Historical Society, Here’s Harrison magazine, Travel infocentre, Arts Festival, Yacht Club, Windsurfing Society,Tennis Club, Sandsculptures ) have all contributed to Harrison’s success and continue to do so. I’m an innovator and community builder and continue to promote Harrison, even though I’ve been blacklisted by the current regime and frozen out of Tourism Harrison. I’m currently working on a historic paddle wheeler cruise to Port Douglas in August 2012. By making the commitment to charter this little ship, I’ve managed to keep it coming back to Harrison every summer. My wife and I continue to host hundreds of visitors every year at our RV Resort. I don’t need a consultant to explain tourism to me. You’ll find me in the front line, looking after visitors, not sitting behind a desk theorizing about abstract tourism concepts. I also have many contacts in the provincial and federal levels, having been very involved as a leader in many tourism organisations. We’ve had six years of a war on tourism and small businesses. It has to stop.

Ken Becotte

Tourism is the primary economy for Harrison Hot Springs but keep in mind there are a lot of local service businesses that support this economy. During my term as Mayor I established an Economic Development Commission with a membership comprised of experienced and successful business people. The Village also hired an Economic & Community Development Officer to work with the Commission. We now have in place an Economic Development Plan that includes specific steps to develop our tourism economy.   Tourism Harrison is a destination marketing organization funded by a portion of the hotel room tax and has a mandate to increase the number of overnight stays by visitors to hotels and motels in the Village.  Sustainable Tourism has been a priority of the current Council and will remain a priority as the key economic engine of the region and our largest local employer.

Arnold Caruk

We under utilize the Hot Springs. It would be good to have graduated temperature outdoor hot pools that could be used year round. All the resort hotels and other accomodations could offer packages to their customers to include passes to use the hot pools which they could pay for to the hot pool operators.

It would be good if we could bring back the sand sculptures.

Leo Facio

Tourisum is our industry in Harrison and is very important. We need to bring together the tourisum industry outside of our region, and see how best Harrison can become an all year destination. Create new events. Bring together the business and residents and discuss ways to help people shop locally.

Leslie Ghezesan

Number one priority, to extend the season rain or shine by developing the use of hot springs, which we have only by the name and is sold out to the corporation, it is a shame not used adequately!

The $1.8 dollar renovation of the Memorial Hall should include the use of free heat with hot spring water.

Subsidies the both lunch: Organising both shows: dog shows and the list goes on.

The most important, to help businesses survive the off-season time!  They are paying licence for full year which is 12 weeks if the weather permitting instead of 12 months.

Speed up they development!  Each business has a story to tell of the abusive bureaucratic incompetent leadership, minimum opening time is 12-20 months due to the incompetency of our 12 years leaders!

Andrew Baziuk

The tourist industry in Harrison needs to be growing and vibrant in order to broaden the village tax base.  This growth would increase the commercial tax base of the village, and thus ease the tax burden from the home owners of the village.  I consider expanding our tourism to be a high priority issue.  For businesses to succeed in Harrison, every weekend should count as a business event and opportunity.  I would like to see Harrison as a place for all seasons.  I therefore would support the Village hiring an events co-coordinator.  A second issue in Harrison is the Hot Springs itself.  Very often visitors ask:  “Where are these hot springs?”  It is a difficult question to answer because one has to explain the hot springs lease and lack of any good facilities at the source.  What I feel is needed is long term determination to change this awkward status quo.  I would make every effort to work with the province, and with the big resort hotel to improve the current situation for ourselves and our visiting tourists.

Dave Harris

I am in favour of developing policy guidelines that will promote some commercial activity on the beachfront. I would like to see the size of the lagoon reduced and recovered area used for parking and new tourist commercial enterprises. I would like to see fountains in the lagoon to aerate the water and measures taken to discourage the goose population. A spray park for children and

bumper boats for teens would be a great attraction. I will continue to support the Economic Development Commission and Tourism Harrison in their efforts to increase tourism activity.

Allan Jackson

With the co-operation of our local Chamber of Commerce and businesses, I would like to have “year round” activites and events, so out tourists and residents can enjoy our beautiful village through all the “seasons.”

Dave Kenyon

Tourism should always be a priority in Harrison Hot Springs it is the basis of our economy. We have just gone through a rebranding exercise which will help define who and what we are for our visitors and residents.

We need to keep working on the Village core and beach area to frame and present the best possible appearance to our visitors. We the residents need to share our pride in where we live with our guests from around the Province and the world, we must always remember they visit here for the same reasons we live here.

Zoltan Kiss

As tourism is the main industry in Harrison, it’s a major concern to businesses and residents to maintain our taxes at a reasonable rate. The Sandcastle Competition provided an extended tourism season and now we must find other activities and attractions to draw in tourists  I believe that Tourism Harrison should promote “all” the businesses in Harrison in order to attract a variety of visitors. I would like to see an outdoor public hot springs pool near our beachfront, similar to what you see at other towns that have hot springs. This is what so many tourists expect to see when they visit.  We have to be cautious of using commercial land for residential developments as this policy does not help promote more tourism.  As the Village is not allowed to financially assist businesses with our taxes, our mission should be to better promote our community.  As our taxes are not going down any time soon, this should be a priority for the next term.

Sonja Reyerse-Peters

As a business owner and active Director of our local Chamber of Commerce I know how difficult it is to succeed in business in Harrison. While the Village has nearly doubled in population over the last 15 years the number of businesses has remained roughly the same. There are obvious answers to increasing tourism but they are far from easy. I think our focus should be not on getting more tourists, but attracting more tourists who stay overnight and spend money in Harrison.  To do this we require a Council that is consistently business friendly, and streamlined business & development processes at the Village office.  The hiring of an Economic Development Officer was a great first step and we need to build on that.  An outdoor, quality Public Pool would be a major plus for tourism.  Additional ‘things to do’ for Tourists such as eco-tourism, water park, zip line, and shoulder season events like the successful Harrison Festival would all help increase Tourism.  This should absolutely be a priority as many of our local businesses rely on tourism dollars to survive.

Richard Shelley:

I believe that promoting tourism to our community should be a priority for the next term. One possible focus for this could be environmental education programs. Small science or nature based school programs offer three advantages over more traditional types of tourism: First, the tourist spends money in the local community the way most tourists spend money: local goods, services, and lodging (though lodging is sometimes part of the deal for some schools.) Second the tourist then spends money to enroll in the local school, which then purchases goods and services, some locally, and employs an educated work force and at rates above the average service sector wage rate. Finally, these science schools incur a small environmental impact because of their service base and because they are carefully planned activities when in natural areas as opposed to dispersed backcountry recreation (which sometimes is labeled ecotourism).

Question 3

3) What do you hope to bring to council?

John Allen:

A fresh start. This tired old council needs to go. We’ve had six years of their bungling. Planning is in shambles. Bylaws are a mess. The administration cost has ballooned. The debt load is now enormous. Tourism is dying and residents are starting to talk of leaving due to the high cost of taxes and utilities. We need a fresh start. The large number of new candidates is very encouraging as it shows a desire for change. That enthusiasm for a new Harrison is great, as far as it goes, but it will also need the expertise to make the necessary changes. I have the most experience in civic administration having served four terms as mayor and also as councillor and have headed many large organisations. Not only am I keen to straighten Harrison out, but I also have the skills, knowledge and ability to do the job.  I will restore civic rights in Harrison and allow everyone, not just the current clique, to participate in Harrison’s success. I will closely supervise all budgets and expenditures to wring maximum value out of each taxpayer dollar. Unlike others who have lived off publicly-funded payrolls, I have positive, real-world business management experience and am quite comfortable dealing in millions.   208 words

Ken Becotte:

In a word, “Leadership”.  Leadership is not about making speeches and being liked, Leadership is about results and getting things done…the right way. It is the role of the Mayor to provide guidance to Council and to work collaboratively with staff and the community in achieving results. It is the role of Council to provide governance for the Village and that includes responsible decision making and accountability.

Arnold Caruk:

I would like to bring openess, accessibility, integrity, fairness and unity.

Leo Facio:

Leadership.  Experience.  Honesty.  Service Above Self.

Leslie Ghezesan:




ACCOUNTABILITY (I know adding and extracting)


Andrew Baziuk:

I have been to a good number of council meetings and I think what is needed on Village Council is a willingness to listen more to various individuals and delegations that appear before council.  To me the general norm seems to be often an aura of disrespect and dislike of council towards the people before it.  I have rarely seen concern expressed, praise given, or valid reasons given for opposing what is being presented by the citizens at large.  I will bring to the Council an open mind.  I am a person who is willing to listen.  I am capable of giving of myself.  My sense of tact and basic human kindness will help me in striving to build consensus among council members to make critical decisions.  I will be a calming influence on council as I strive to bring and display this respect towards past and present mayors, past and present council members, and of course to the participating public.  My voice of calm and reason will thus be crucial in reaching the best decisions for the village on the matters and decisions of the day.

Dave Harris:

3) What do you hope to bring to council?[Dave Harris]  During my two terms on council I have been a very strong and proactive advocate of improving and repairing our aging infrastructure. Accomplishments so far are the water reservoir, watermain extensions, waste water treatment plant upgrade and repairs to sewer mains. There are still too many areas in Harrison still not serviced by water mains and I will continue to work towards potable water and fire protection. Water filtration will be a big challenge for the next council as it will have to choose between the lake source and deep underground wells. Fraser Health has mandated that we provide Class A Canadian Drinking Water standards to our potable water. Without filtration the high turbidity levels in the lake supply make disinfection more

difficult. We must act soon to move eliminate this problem. A careful evaluation of costs and public information meetings to make everyone aware of the merits of each will be a mandate for the new council and I believe that my experience and expertise will be beneficial in achieving the goal.

Allan Jackson:

I will bring accountability, honesty, foresight and integrity to the taxpayers of Harrison Hot Springs.

Dave Kenyon:

I do not bring a personal agenda, I bring a belief in our community and the knowledge that a small group of people ( your council) can cooperatively  make positive changes for the future of our community. I also bring common sense to the council chamber and the strength to fight for what is right for this Village.


Zoltan Kiss

I would advocate and support the following:

– more transparent and accountable administration

– more responsible decision making (eg) strict adherence to bylaws and procedures at Council meetings

– more “meaningful” public participation (eg) expanded Question and Answer period at all meetings

– more advance notice of public information meetings

– public hearings and information meetings should have more of a “meaningful” impact on final decisions

– return to 2 Council meetings per month, informing and encouraging the public and the press to attend

– overall, citizens should be allowed to see, hear, and speak their concerns

As a 13 1/2 year resident of Harrison I have attended many Council, Special Council, and Committee meetings.  I have a good working knowledge of meeting rules and procedures and feel that the public is being shortchanged when these are not followed.  Public participation at Council meetings has drastically reduced in the last couple of years.  I believe this has occurred because they have not been encouraged to speak freely or they have been simply ignored.  I’m an independent thinker who will bring your concerns to Council’s attention.  I can be a great team member on Council as long as it benefits the community as a whole.

Sonja Reyerse-Peters:

I thought long and hard before deciding to run for Council. I have lived in Harrison for 12 years; long enough to no longer be thought of as a newbie and long enough to know that being on Council in Harrison is not for the faint of heart or those with thin skin. Having been PAC president for Harrison Elementary, and AESS for a total of 11 years, involved with and Director of the Chamber of Commerce for 9 years, and involved with a lot of Harrison events I have tried as best I can to bring a positive “let’s get it done” attitude with a healthy dose of common sense as to what can be achieved. I hope to bring those same traits to my involvement with Council should I be elected. I love Harrison, have brought my Children up in Harrison and want only the best for Harrison. As a Councillor I will bring an open mind, a feminine perspective and a promise to do the hard work of analyzing the issues and using common sense to find the right solutions.  I chose to live in Harrison and I believe it is up to me to help make it the best possible place it can be.

Richard Shelley:

I hope to bring to Council, a high level motivation and determination to do what ever is necessary to ensure the decisions that are made are: fiscally responsible, motivated by the best interests of the Village as a whole and will serve our Village interests in the long term. I would like to take better advantage of social media and the village’s website to communicate council’s decisions to the public. I am looking to bring balance, transparency to Harrison Hot Springs city council. I have the determination and the desire to work with all members of council to come up with creative ideas and to work as one cohesive unit. I want to be there to give support

and dedicated effort to continue to move council and our village forward.