Broken pavement, narrow sidewalks and crosswalk confusion.
It’s not really the image the Village of Harrison Hot Springs wants to convey to its 1.2 million annual visitors, but that’s the current state of affairs on the tourist-driven stretches of Esplanade.
However, on Monday night council was shown a conceptual design to revive at least one portion of the beachside strip. Michelle Sorensen from CTQ Consultants led council through a slideshow outlining an “Esplanade Revitalization,” focusing on the western stretch from Hot Springs Road to the resort entrance.
Key changes would involve a narrowing of the roadway to allow for growth of user-friendly sidewalk space, which would allow for “contemplative areas” for benches and trees. It would also allow for restaurants and cafes to expand their business onto the sidewalk with chairs and tables.
Landscaping would accentuate the current features on the beach. The same concrete pavers that are used in Spirit Square would be used along the sidewalks, and areas would be made available for public art, bike racks, benches or wayfinding signs.
The purpose of the redesign would be to improve pedestrian flow, Sorensen said, but it would also be the time for maintenance on the road itself, including fixes to current drainage issues.
Sorensen pointed out that the current four crosswalks are not as effective in moving foot traffic as they could be, and illustrations in her presentation showed a new design for better planned, slightly raised pedestrian crossings that would take visitors from the business side of the street to the beach, and back.
Council has not made a decision on whether to use CTQ Consultants, but improvements to the beachfront are a part of the Official Community Plan, Mayor Leo Facio said. The presentation was “just a chance to introduce the concept to the public.”
The concept is in the feasibility stage, she added, and so includes a 20 per cent contingency. In total the estimate shown was $515,000, which would be drawn from RMI funds and gas tax.
Facio said if council were to go through with the plan, it would lay out the plan for the future face of Harrison.
“This would be the start of revitalizing Esplanade,” he said. “As time goes on, we would move east.”
There are benefits beyond improving pedestrian flow and improving the Village’s image, Sorensen said. When a municipality invests in the look of a community, the private sector often follows suit. She featured the changes of South Pandosy in Kelowna as an example of the work CTQ has done.
“These developments inspire improvement within the private sector,” she said.