Wind sports lagging behind industry growth

Society urging council to consider growth plan for Harrison Lake

Wind sports may be steadily growing in popularity across the Pacific Northwest, but at Harrison Lake the numbers are dwindling.

Thousands of people visit Hood River, Ore. to learn how to windsurf and kiteboard, and the numbers are impressive at the Squamish Spit, too. In both cases, the municipalities charge a small fee, which is funneled back into improving launch facilities.

In three years, the number of visitors to Hood River for wind sports has doubled to about 6,000. In Squamish, $120,000 is collected annually from membership and user fees.

In Harrison, the number of members contributing to the Harrison Windsport Society has dropped from 150 to a mere 37 over the past six years, leaving the society with an operating budget of $700.

This week, directors Alex Switzer and Luk Stanek directly appealed to the District of Kent for support as they try to lure back adventure sport enthusiasts.

“There are very few sites in B.C. with steady afternoon winds,” Switzer said, making the reliably windy afternoons on Harrison Lake a benefit. It’s what made the lake a wind sport destination in the past, with set up and launch off the breakwater area, on the east side of the lake, just past the marina. It’s an informal boat launch, offered for shared use by the District of Kent.

Being a public site, the Harrison Windsport Society cannot charge for usage, but they do have an honour system for membership, and in return provide advice, monitor and report the weather on their website, and try to connect new users with the proper instructors.

But they’d love to see the sport grow here, with the hopes of eventually drawing in a wind sport school.

“We don’t have a school here, so we don’t have boat support,” Stanek said. “A school comes with a boat but it’s hard to attract a school when we don’t have the basics.”

A boat is needed specifically for learning, as kite boarders drift downwind and need to be picked up. When new users contact Stanek and Switzer, they have to re-direct them to schools in Squamish. Those users may come to experience wind sports on Harrison Lake.

The society provides a port-a-potty, but they asked council to consider a grassy area, benches and the approval to erect safety signage for users. Parking is also an issue, and the society showed council how Squamish’s spit, similar to the breakwater, is wider through the middle to allow for people to sit and watch, to set up, picnic, and enjoy the day. It also frees up parking space. Currently, only a handful of vehicles can park in the area, limiting the number of people on the lake at any one time. They would be willing to work with DFO over the next few decades to widen the breakwater to increase traffic.

With the growth of the sport, they said, there will be a growth in the economy through schools, rental companies, and tourism spinoff.

“There has been huge growth in a lot of communities, but not here,” Stanek added. In addition to addressing Kent council, they are also working with Community Futures, and reaching out to the wider adventure sport community, including rock climbers, mountain bikers and outdoor recreation schools.

“We are looking to build a recreational plan for the area,” Stanek said.

For now, they’ll have to keep directing new users to Squamish.

To learn more, visit www.harrisonwindsports.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

Harrison Festival releases 2019 line up

The 41st annual Harrison Festival of the Arts will be held from July 12 to 21

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Rainfall warning: Up to 70 mm expected across Fraser Valley

Environment Canada issued a weather warning heading into the long weekend

Status quo budget expected for Fraser-Cascade School District

The 2019-20 budget will see few cutbacks, and expects few increases in enrolment

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

Man in hospital after crash involving parked car in Vancouver

It is unclear what led to the collision involving a black Acura and a parked Land Rover

Elizabeth May’s B.C. wedding will be a ‘low carbon affair’ on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

5 to start your day

Police identify victim in Vancouver shooting, Trans Mountain pipeline decision extended and more

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Most Read