Tourism Harrison executive director Robert Reyerse stands with a replica of a Sts’ailes Sasquatch mask in the Sasquatch Museum at the Visitor Information Centre in Harrison Hot Springs. (File photo)

Tourism Harrison executive director Robert Reyerse stands with a replica of a Sts’ailes Sasquatch mask in the Sasquatch Museum at the Visitor Information Centre in Harrison Hot Springs. (File photo)

Province grants Harrison $1 million to expand Visitor Centre, Sasquatch Museum

Construction expected to begin on new building this summer

There’s exciting news for tourism in Harrison Hot Springs.

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport announced $21.3 million in grant funding for 50 shovel-ready tourism projects across the province – including $1 million for the expansion of the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum in Harrison.

The ministry called the visitor centre and museum “a key attraction that celebrates Harrison’s long history with the Sasquatch and the Sts’ailes people.” The funding comes from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program’s Destination Development fund, during which the province distributed $20 million for 54 projects in 2021 in addition to this year’s $21.3 million investment.

“We know tourism infrastructure is a priority for communities. Today, we are responding to this call to action from the sector that will further support its recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Our investment in tourism creates good-paying jobs that directly support local economies now and will elevate our reputation as a world-class destination for the many visitors looking to return to B.C. for years to come.”

These projects were chosen for funding after demonstrating tourism, employment and cultural benefits.

Robert Reyerse, Tourism Harrison River Valley executive director, said an entirely new building for the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum has been a long time coming, and that the new museum would bring more indoor activities to the Harrison area, where tourism is primarily driven by outdoor activities.

“Harrison is one of 14 designated resort communities in the province; all the rest are a bit bigger with bigger operations going,” Reyerse said. “I’m excited about this because we’ve gone through really tough few years. Tourism destinations were hit harder than just about any community.”

A collection of Sasquatch footprints is on display at the Harrison Sasquatch Museum. (File photo)

A collection of Sasquatch footprints is on display at the Harrison Sasquatch Museum. (File photo)

Reyerse estimates the museum and visitor centre attracts about 8,000 visitors per year, and COVID-19 restrictions had a significant impact on that number, in no small part due to already tight spacing.

“In terms of the impact of COVID-19, flooding…our community has really gone through really difficult time. This is going to be a huge positive for the community for residents and businesses alike; it’s a legacy project for Harrison, establishing us firmly as Sasquatch capital of the world.”

Reyerse estimates work can begin on the new building this summer with the goal of completion for next summer. He said he hopes to expand the museum to include more about the history of the Harrison area and the Sts’ailes First Nation.

“Tourism businesses help keep history alive in our communities, and the pandemic has really affected them,” said Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon. “The Sts’ailes peoples and their legacy are such an important part of Harrison Hot Springs, and my family loves learning about the local history of the Sasquatch. It’s great that this funding will support the expansion and preservation of such a vital and educational community landmark.”

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