Harrison Hot Springs have the chance to look back on how far the village has come thanks to the Village of Harrison Hot Springs 2019 Annual Report.
The following is a rundown of highlights from the 66-page report released earlier this summer.
Mayor Leo Facio said the village showed growth in both business and residential development in 2019. He further noted the village continued to work on close relationships with the neighbouring communities, highlighting the partnership with the Sts’ailes First Nation in particular. The village flies the Sts’ailes flag in Civic Plaza next to the village’s.
“This flag will…serve to educate our visitors from all over the world that the land is shared among us all,” he stated.
Facio applauded the opening of Qwólts Park where the Miami River meets Harrison Lake. The project started out as a flood pump replacement project but quickly evolved into a park area complete with public local art.
The financial report indicated total revenues between 2018 and 2019 were down by more than $874,000. Village officials said the significant dip mostly came from less government grant funding because of fewer grant-funded projects in the village from 2018 to 2019. Other assets rose due to an increase in both property tax and population as well as parking rates and investment income.
Wages increased by two per cent, and overall expenses rose by about $274,000 compared to the year prior, but it is still reportedly within budget.
The future outlook is mired in unknowns related to the coronavirus as tourism in particular has taken a devastating hit due to the pandemic. The village staff has adjusted tax classes and rates for 2020 in an effort and financial officer Tracey Jones acknowledged the additional aid from the federal government and province in their tax adjustments. Jones added the village is “committed to fiscal responsibility” and will continue to seek grant funding for vital projects.
Goals and objectives
Village staff listed a number of goals met in 2019. Here are a few highlights.
Infrastructure and Utilities: Memorial Hall upgrades including Wi-Fi and flooring, Lift Station 3 improvements and boat launch pavement and lighting
Recreation, Culture and Tourism: Qwólts park construction, completed housing needs assessment and hosting a number of successful festivals
Environment and Sustainability: LED lighting upgrades throughout, up-cycling HPS lights to El Salvador and created the lagoon redesign master plan
Transportation: completed road and bridges and active transportation master plans
Fairness and Fiscal Responsibility: completed asset management plan, updated sewer regulation bylaw and received the Canadian Award for Fiscal Reporting for the 2018 annual report
Demographics and Tourism
In the 2019 annual report, village officials reported a total of 700,000 visitors on average per year. The current full-time resident population is 1,468. Just over 500 people are aged 65 and older with 953 being under the age of 65. In 2019, the village received just over $514,000 in Resort Municipality Initiative funding from the province to maintain an develop tourism-related attractions and infrastructure. The village typically spends about 10 per cent of their annual budget on visitor amenities as a result.
The complete report can be viewed through the Harrison Hot Springs website at harrisonhotsprings.ca.
Check back in with The Observer when we dive into the 2019 annual report from the District of Kent in an upcoming edition.
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