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Harrison Hot Springs village council moved to sell the building at 499 Hot Springs Road, the soon-to-be-former home of the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum on the basis that the building be removed from the property. The council voted 3-2 in favour with Couns. Gerry Palmer and Ray Hooper dissenting.
If the building is sold, the buyer would have 30 days to remove the building from the property. If there are no bids received, the building will be demolished.
Back in Feburary, the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum was granted $1 million as part of a larger province-wide investment of $21.3 million toward shovel-ready tourism projects. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport deemed the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum “A key attraction that celebrates Harrison’s long history with the Sasquatch and the Sts’ailes people.”
The $21.3 million comes from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program Destination Development Fund, which has already invested more than $20 million in 54 additional tourism projects across B.C.
Tourism Harrison River Valley executive director Robert Reyerse estimated about 8,000 visitors per year came to the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum and added the pandemic seriously impacted the number of visitors to the museum and beyond.
The project would involve an entirely new building for the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum with expanded space in the hopes of accenting the museum as an indoor activity for tourists and locals alike. Reyerse told The Observer the project could be completed by next summer, should all go according to plan.
While funding moved forward, until the April 19 meeting, the question remained as to what would become of the former building.
During the special council meeting on April 7, three separate motions to decide the fate of the old Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum building were defeated with three members of council voting against each and Couns. Hooper and Palmer voting against all three.
Councillors were presented with three options concerning the building that currently houses the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum at 499 Hot Springs Road. The options were to repurpose and move the existing building, to authorize the sale of the building to a third party and demolition.
Repurposing presents the challenge of moving and planning costs in addition to bringing the building up to the current code. This would cost an estimated $45,000 to accomplish, funded through tourism grants and surplus. Village officials estimate this option would take four to eight weeks to accomplish and another four to eight weeks to move the building to a new location, permit processing times included. If the building can’t be housed appropriately, it would need to be demolished, which would result in additional costs.
Selling the building to a third party would be a shorter and possibly less costly process, taking an estimated two months to complete. However, there’s the risk a buyer may not come forward, which would put the project at risk.
Demolition would cost $30,000, should there be no unforeseen issues that would hamper the proceedings. Village officials have deemed the current Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum to have no particular monetary or historical value, stating the 1949 structure is infested with rodents and is significantly different than structures that meet current building standards.
The village identified no major risks for demolition, which could take four to eight weeks to complete.