CTQ Consultants designer Frank Pohland (left) explaining some points in the Harrison Lagoon Area Master Plan at the open house on Friday, Oct. 18. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Residents say no to boardwalk, yes to lake connection for Harrison lagoon

The Harrison Lagoon Area Master Plan finished its public consultation last week

Harrison residents are divided on whether the lagoon should stay or go, but those who want it to stay have some definitive ideas on what should be done to improve it.

In the last part of October, Harrison Hot Springs unveiled its draft Lagoon Area Master Plan, which looks at different options for improving the lagoon space both in the water and on land. The plan, designed by CTQ Consultants, was unveiled at an open house on Friday, Oct. 18, and residents had the opportunity to provide input through a survey until Oct. 25.

According to designer Frank Pohland and managing partner Matt Cameron, residents at the open house all had strong views on what they felt should happen to the lagoon.

“We got quite a wide variety (of opinions), from filling it in to taking it out totally to a lot of these ideas,” Cameron said. “I got quite a variety of comments in that respect.”

RELATED: Lagoon improvements, but no safety audit recommendations, coming to Harrison

For those who were in support of keeping the lagoon, many felt good about some of the options in the draft master plan, which looked at things like creating a boardwalk across the lagoon’s water, improving the riparian area, creating a berm in front of the beachfront bathrooms, and opening up an access point to the rest of the lake to allow for better water flow.

“The only thing that really jumped out is the fact that there doesn’t seem like there’s any support for the idea of a boardwalk,” Pohland said.

The boardwalk idea originally came from Harrison staff, Pohland said. The draft plan presented four different options: where the boardwalk came out halfway into the lagoon, went completely across, crossed diagonally over the edge, and a fourth concept that was more like a floating dock.

According to Pohland, more than half of the respondents were opposed to the idea of a boardwalk — which would have been challenging to implement anyways.

“I think there was a concern of introducing a structure into the area,” he said. “Also, the degree of fluctuation in the lagoon presented some problems because … if we were dealing with an actual pier, there would be significant exposure to the wood members, and there would be a pretty significant drop from the top of the boardwalk to the water itself.”

Other ideas that were received more favourably included creating a connection between the lagoon and the rest of Harrison lake, which would help create a free flow of water between the two areas.

RELATED: Harrison Lagoon closed due to E. coli

Although the draft master plan also included a number of elaborate examples of water features, which would have been used to help aerate the water in the lagoon, the plan will likely end up with a much more simple pedestrian bridge over the connection to the lake.

However, respondents were largely in favour of adding some sort of water or light feature to the lagoon.

“Now, I think some like the idea of having some sort of aesthetic feature that can be lit up at night,” Pohland said. “The whole idea of the (Lights by the Lake) that you have in Harrison would be complimented by anything that we could put in the lagoon itself.”

However, Cameron added, that would likely be quite costly, because of ongoing maintenance and electricity costs.

Other potential changes that were well-received by residents included thinning out the trees on the lake side of the lagoon’s pathway, and removing trees towards the lagoon to create more beach space.

At this point, CTQ Consultants will be bringing the residents’ responses to the draft master plan back to the village, so staff can discuss next steps. A priority list will likely be established, and cost estimates begun.

The process of developing the final master plan is expected to take about three months.


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