The District of Kent is making moves towards finally getting a secondary exit out of Harrison Hot Springs.
Right now, Highway 9 is the only route in to or out of Harrison Hot Springs, leaving the community vulnerable in the event of an emergency. Back in 2017, a falling boulder causing evacuations on Rockwell Drive and the threat of wildfires showcased the need for an emergency exit.
“If we can be proactive about (an emergency), then at the end of the day the dollars spent are spent more fruitfully. We can’t just cross our fingers and say we have an emergency plan but we don’t have a way to make it work,” then-mayor John Van Laerhoven told the Agassiz Harrison Observer in 2017.
The idea at that time was the have an evacuation route go through Sasquatch Provincial Park, which has a nearly completed road out of the area that could connect to Highway 7.
In May of this year, the District of Kent put out a request for proposals that would see a contractor identify and analyze three possible routes out of the district for people in the Rockwell Drive and Sasquatch Provincial Park areas.
The request for proposals noted that an emergency evacuation route had been a priority for more than 20 years. They were hoping for proponents to complete their analysis of the routes by Sept. 30, within the grant funding amount of $19,700, with all proposals being submitted by the end of May.
In late June, emergency program coordinator Mike Van Laerhoven said the district had received only one proposal, and it was significantly above the budget: $58,300 rather than $19,000.
During the June 24 Kent council meeting, Van Laerhoven suggested that the request for proposals be extended to give contractors more time to develop proposals that would meet the district’s requirements.
The new request for proposals must be submitted by July 19, with the analysis to be completed no later than Feb. 28.
-with files from Nina Grossman