Tim Flanagan is correct in bemoaning the death of Harrison’s once-growing tourism industry but wrong about the cause. With 27 years on the front line, (compared to his nine), and 36 years continuously in Harrison, I can offer a deeper perspective.
We, the small businesses in Harrison , (who are not part of council’s elite inner circle), are suffering from recent councils composed mostly of retired bank clerks and bus drivers. They seem determined to turn our once-vibrant destination resort into a sleepy retirement backwater.
Instead of focusing on overnight visitors ( who spend lots of money on accommodation , meals and shopping) , they have spent hundreds of thousands on creating a cheap daytrippers’ paradise along the beachfront.
Instead of preserving our only natural asset, (the terrific view up Harrison Lake), they encourage its destruction with visible clear cuts, an ugly rock breakwater and a floating eyesore in front of the Hotel .
Instead of protecting the land base necessary for tourism growth, they violate the OCP by imposing view-blocking residential condos in the heart of the business district.
Instead of preserving our parkland and woodlands, (which city people come here to enjoy), they advocate clear cutting the beautiful, old-growth woods for condos.
Instead of supporting our shoulder-season events, (such as the world championships of sand sculpture), they cram more events into July and August when we are already at capacity. They then claim credit for the big turn-out of visitors who were here, anyway.
Instead of encouraging water sports such as windsurfing, they have spent over $200,000 destroying the only viable launch site by building a completely unnecessary breakwater and wind break.
I could go on, but my point is that Harrison’s small business community is under attack and is suffering from the systematic destruction of its only industry, tourism.
This will not change until voters realize that the decline of tourism is actually driving up their taxes and driving down their property values and they vote to return seasoned business people (rather than populist philosophers) to the leadership of the community. It will take years to repair the damage now being done.