Harrison Candidate Q&A – Sonja Reyerse

Village of Harrison Hot Springs: Reyerse, Sonja - Council Candidate

  • Nov. 7, 2014 3:00 p.m.

Sonya Reyerse

Q:  What one quality makes you most suited for the role of a community leader?

My most important quality as a Councillor is integrity.  It is important to me that residents can trust that what I say, I will do. Integrity means that I bring an honest, transparent approach to issues with a strong moral compass.  While integrity is key, a second trait that I bring that is nearly as important, is curiosity.  I ask tough questions to make sure that Council is provided a complete picture when making decisions.  Anyone who has sat in the audience during a Council Meeting knows that I am not afraid to ask difficult questions and will not rest till I have a complete and usable answer to make sure Council makes a fact based appropriate decision.

 

Q: Should council be working harder to protect the surrounding forests and parks from industrial development, including logging and run of river power project? Or are these necessary operations?

It is important that residents understand that Harrison Hot Springs only has direct responsibility over what takes place within our municipal boundaries.

That said Council does have a responsibility to speak up on issues that affect our region.  A prime example is the position that Council took recently against the boundary adjustment that was being pursued in Sasquatch Park.  Sasquatch Park actually sits surrounded by the District of Kent but it was Harrison Hot Springs Council that passed a resolution and sent a letter to the Minister responsible stating that we were absolutely against a boundary adjustment that would allow logging.

 

Q: Would you support the creation of a bylaw that would allow for care homes and assisted living? Why or why not?

This is one of those questions that seems simple but isn’t. For banks to finance this type of development requires significant government funding with 80% of the beds being funded by the health authority. Each unit in a care facility costs approx $200,000 to build. It is economies of scale – you need a minimum of 200 assisted living and complex care units to make a project viable. Chilliwack is currently overbuilt with assisted living homes and most recently the assisted/independent living developments in both Mission and Osoyoos went into receivership. Cheam Village in Agassiz has been operating for 4 years and is only now at 75% occupancy. I would definitely support a bylaw or OCP amendment stating that we support our seniors and if a developer comes along and wants to drop 10 million dollars building a care facility in our Village we will absolutely consider re-zoning to accommodate this!

 

Q: Can Harrison really survive on tourism alone?

For over 100 years the Harrison economy has survived on Tourism.  Given the limited amount of land available in our village, industrial development does not really make sense.  Tourism and the local businesses that support both tourists and residents can keep Harrison sustainable if we continue to work on broadening the tourist season and supporting our local businesses.  It’s important to remember that Tourism drives not only approximately 40% of the tax base but also the 2% Hotel Tax related RMI funds that paid for the recent Esplanade improvements, new front entrance, beach playground and Harrison Lake Plaza. The Tourism industry has supported Harrison since its beginning and can do so for years to come.

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