Sonny Damato, a five-year Harrison resident, has announced his intention to run for mayor of Harrison Hot Springs. Sonny Damato/Facebook

HARRISON ELECTION

Harrison mayor hopeful wants to preserve ‘small town feel’

Sonny Damato makes 24 promises to voters including audit of past administration

At least one Harrison resident has publicly announced his intention to run in the upcoming municipal election.

But the mayor-hopeful said that he has no intention to become a politician; he wants to be a “Village representative.”

Sonny Damato is a 62-year-old retired construction project consultant and grandfather of three who has lived in Harrison since 2013.

Damato was born in Malta, and lived on the small Mediterranean island until he was 26. But he worried that it was too small a place to spend his life, and didn’t provide enough opportunity for his family. So he, his wife Doris and their infant daughter moved to Ontario.

Some years after his second daughter had grown up, Damato and his wife made the move to another tiny, beautiful place – Harrison Hot Springs.

With his miniature pinscher, Caesar, following him outside, Damato gestures to his yard, his garden and the mountains expanding across the horizon.

“I love this place,” he says. “The calmness…the idea that you go for a walk and people say hi and wave at you and you can stop and have a conversation.”

It’s the “little village” concept that Damato remembers from Malta.

“Unfortunately, since I’ve been [in Harrison,] a lot of things are happening that I don’t like,” he said.

That’s why one of Damato’s most impassioned campaign promises is the implementation of a controversial concept where developers make a direct financial contribution to the community – like paying for a new playground or building upgrade – in order to build within Village limits.

He feels strongly that this is the way to ensure Village projects are funded and completed.

“There’s too much construction going on. When I’m mayor and somebody wants to do a project in my Village, that’s a privilege,” he said.

“If they are coming in and disrupting [the Village] to make money for themselves, they better have something to give to the community.”

It should be noted that the Village of Harrison already has development cost charges bylaws in place that have incoming developers contribute additional funds for future sewage, water, drainage and highway infrastructure costs over and above charges for on-site upgrades.

In addition, developers often make “community amenity contributions” – voluntary contributions negotiated between developers and the municipality and placed in a reserve fund to pay for community projects.

Damato also provides a pamphlet with a list of 24 objectives that include “abolishing useless titles in council,” re-butting “stupid bylaws” written to suppress individual residents and building an off-leash dog park.

Other promises include removing the pay-parking system, bringing in more police officers, improving curbside collection, and investigating the Village’s current water management program because, in his words, “water should never become a commodity.”

Damato’s pamphlet also states that he will order an audit of the books and transactions done during the current administration and bring to “justice those who were involved in wrongdoings to the detriment of the Village of Harrison.” He does not clarify what these wrongdoings might be.

Another area of passion for Damato is the natural hot springs, which he says should be improved, made public, and be free for Harrison residents.

“This is who we are here – we are Harrison Hot Springs,” he said.

“The residents don’t have hot springs. It’s part of what we should be enjoying here, and we’re not.”

This might be a difficult, if not impossible, promise for Damato to fulfil; the Village of Harrison doesn’t have jurisdiction over the hot springs – they’re under an ownership lease to the Harrison Hot Springs Resort.

Municipal elections across B.C. are slated for Oct. 20. And even with only months to go, no one else has publicly stepped forward to announce their candidacy for council or mayor in Kent or Harrison.

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

Just Posted

DFO confirms that investigation of fish habitat destruction in the Fraser River is underway

Conservation and Protection reps ordered Herrling and Carey Island owners to take corrective action

Hope rescue crew remove man pinned in semi-truck on Highway 3

Tuesday night rescue was swift, with the man removed safely from the truck within an hour and a half

UFV students raise money to keep ‘nicest’ person in Abbotsford

Foreign student struggles to pay for schooling after Trump withdrawal from Iran deal

Widening project on Rosedale overhead wins award of excellence

Overhead part of two-phase widening and seismic upgrading project

Girl, 6, lured from elementary school, sexually assaulted: Vancouver police

Police are seeking dashcam footage from nearby Sexsmith Elementary School in South Vancouver

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Torched-SUV victim ‘had the purest heart,’ says sister

Family of teen found in burned SUV in Surrey appeals for justice

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

Most Read