Candidates for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs filled the Memorial Hall stage on Tuesday night

Candidates for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs filled the Memorial Hall stage on Tuesday night

Paid parking and green waste generates interest at debate

Public lobs questions at Harrison council hopefuls

The Harrison All Candidates Debate ran one hour over the planned timeframe and drew in hundreds of audience members, including election candidates in the neighbouring District of Kent and the local school board.

Tuesday night’s debate, hosted by the Harrison-Agassiz Chamber of Commerce at Harrison Memorial Hall, included all five mayoral candidates and all nine council candidates. After each candidate had a few minutes to introduce themselves and answer a question by the Chamber, the public was invited to write their own questions for the candidates.

Emcee Allan Roth and a panel of volunteers organized the resulting 150 questions into a handful of wider-based questions regarding green waste, business development, openness in meetings, tourism, recreation, paid parking and drinking water options.

Each candidate had anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds to answer each question, but the two-hour time slot initially planned still wasn’t long enough to handle quick answers from all the candidates. At 9:30 p.m., Roth announced they meeting would continue until 10 p.m.

But the meeting also brought to light some underlying personality conflicts between several of the candidates, as well as allegiances.

It’s no secret to regular attendees of Harrison council meetings that members don’t always agree, and that was addressed by Mayor Ken Becotte in his opening speech.

“There’s a lot talk that we don’t get along,” Becotte said. “And at times that’s true, and at other times, we do (get along).”

Becotte is running for his second term as mayor, against former mayors Leo Facio and John Allen, and newcomers Arnold Caruk and Leslie Ghezeshan.

Facio used his four minute introduction to list off accomplishments while he was in council, including those that came to fruition during the most recent administration, including the Spirt Square and the new reservoir. He also promised to “investigate the lack of development” over the past few years.

Allen, who regularly disagrees very openly with council said “yes, I do get mad” but that it’s because he feels the job of mayor is to ensure everything is done in the proper manner. He believes decisions are made in “back room meetings” prior to public meetings, a statement that Councillor Allan Jackson refuted later in the evening.

“I think Mr. Allen is way off base,” saying that current council goes into meetings with “pre-ordained decisions.”

“I have never made a decision in-camera,” he stated. In-camera meetings are not open to the public and deal with labour, legal and land issues.

Leslie Ghezeshan told the audience he has received feedback that he should have someone editing his printed material for proper English, and he dismissed the idea.

“If editing it, it would not be me,” he said. “I left it ’cause that’s what I am.”

He is lobbying to bring equality to all of the Village’s neighbourhoods, “not just the beach.”

He said he got interested in a one issue at council, started attended meetings, and saw the need for change.

Arnold Caruk feels that tourism needs a boost to keep the community alive.

“We lost the sand sculptures. There was no Poker Run this year, and now we’re in danger of losing the arts, too,” he said.

As the Observer reported earlier this year, the Harrison Festival of the Arts is one of the last big tourism-driving events in Harrison, but is under threat of reshaping or possibly even folding due to a loss in gaming grants. Its future hangs in the balance as the Community Gaming Grant Review is currently being read by the government. The report will be made public in two months.

The issue of paid parking has been talked about for several years in the Village, and candidates were able to voice their opinions on how that would affect local business.

Facio believes there should be paid parking and that the revenue be used to clean up the beach.

Council candidate Sonja Reyerse-Peters said if there were pay parking on Esplanade, then a plan should be in place to manage parking on side streets.

Niek deBrouwer, the youngest council candidate, said pay parking should be considered only in certain areas, and only if the money were to benefit the Village.

Council candidate Andrew Baziuk was one of many to say they wouldn’t support pay parking. That included John Allen, who said people stopped going to Green Point when the provincial government introduced pay parking at that location.

“It wasn’t a good idea there, and it would be really bad for business in Harrison,” he said.

Becotte was more pragmatic about the question, reminding the audience that there already are pockets of paid parking in Harrison.

“Can I get a pass?” he joked at first. “Last election I was against paid parking.”

He suggested time limits for busy areas, to keep people “moving around.”

Caruk worried paid parking would move people into residential areas, and Kenyon said twice: “I’m not in favour of paid parking.”

Council candidates Richard Shelley and Dave Harris both said they see benefits to pay parking in the Village.

“I’m in favour of paid parking if you can have a plan that looks at the side streets,” Shelley said, mentioning people who come to the beach, buy one ice cream cone, spend the day and leave.

Harris is in favour of parking, in order to pay for more parking spaces and create a bigger parking lot.

For more reactions from audience questions, and video clips from the evening, visit us online at www.ahobserver.com.

 

 

 

Just Posted

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Black Press file photo.
COVID exposure recorded at Kent Elementary

Students, families encouraged to keep monitoring for symptoms

A multi-angle rendering of what a potential wayfinding sign would look like. The village is working with several local organizations to create the sign, designed to help tourists find their way around Harrison. (Screenshot/Village of Harrison Hot Springs)
Harrison Council approves wayfinding signs for tourism

Signs to be located at corner of Esplanade and St. Alice

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read