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

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

Harrison Festival to share the culture behind the music

Festival director Andy Hillhouse will be talking about nationalism in music, starting March 4

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Twilight Drive-In announces open season start date

Opening weekend will showcase a double feature with Aquaman at 7:15 p.m. and Glass at 9:50 p.m.

Most Read