The debate on barbecues heated back up Monday (Jan. 6), with Harrison Hot Springs Village council voting to approve funding for 14 new designated barbecue sites.
The new sites, which will use up to $56,000 of the village’s reserve funds, will be installed in an eastern section of the beachfront.
The decision follows council’s Nov. 21, 2019 committee of the whole request that staff prepare a draft park regulation bylaw amendment to restrict the use of barbecues to pedestals in a designated area on the beach between Maple Street and Rendall Park.
In September 2019, nearly 20 businesses brought forward a request to restrict visitors from bringing tents and barbecues to the beach, saying it impacted restaurant business and sight lines along the waterfront.
At the Jan. 6 meeting, community services coordinator Rhonda Schell told council that the number of pedestals that can safely be installed in the designated area on the promenade is 14.
Schell said the pedestals must be installed away from trees and not interfere with events that take place on the promenade.
In Rendall Park, there are currently 14 barbecue pedestals installed on concrete blocks next to picnic tables, she added. The addition of the new sites would create a total of 28 sites along the waterfront to be used for barbecuing on a first come, first use basis.
Several councillors expressed concern about the expense of the new sites, which will be installed by staff and include a concrete pad, accessible concrete picnic table, and barbecue pedestal.
“Four thousand dollars a site seems like an awful lot,” councillor Ray Hooper said.
“It’ll stop the use of the memorial benches,” Mayor Leo Facio replied.
Hooper said taxpayers pay into the reserves and asked if the funding for the new sites could instead be taken from the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) program, however, Schell said the sites don’t fit the program requirements.
“Reserves are money that has been collected over a number of years,” financial officer Tracey Jones added. “This one would come out of a reserve specifically set up for park improvements.”
After the discussion, council voted to approve the expenditure, with councillors Hooper and Samantha Piper opposed.
Now that council has approved the new barbecue sites, staff are expected to bring the draft park regulation bylaw amendment to restrict the use of barbecues to pedestals forward at a regular meeting before the summer.