Councillors Aidan McLaren-Caux (left) and Joseph Hughes (second from right) will sit on the new advisory committee for the hot springs. File photo

Nakusp council re-appoints committee to support hot springs operations

Group will provide advice and direction for initiatives to build the business.

The Village of Nakusp is pressing the reset button on its committee overseeing the Nakusp Hot Springs.

Council decided at its last meeting to revitalize a committee that oversees the community-owned springs, as part of a drive to spur economic development in the village.

“Part of our strategic plan is we support the hot springs as much as we can,” says councillor Aidan McLaren-Caux. “It’s a financially-positive asset for the village, so the idea behind an advisory committee is to essentially provide, for lack of a better term, free consulting for the business.”

The Hot Springs Advisory committee will give feedback and advice on the hot springs, identify strategic planning issues and initiatives, and help steer the facility toward greater success, said a report to council. The advisory committee will bring “an external perspective to assist in the development of policy and practices for the hot springs.”

One thing the committee won’t do, however, is have a say in the day-to-day operation of the facility. That will be left to the hired staff and managers.

McLaren-Caux is one of the new appointees to the committee.

“Part of what we are trying to facilitate is to diversify the tourism and hospitality aspects of the local economy,” he says. “Being an operator, we have the capacity to both promote the village and region through our own operation, while specifically supporting that operation.”

The reboot of the committee comes as council takes steps to re-invigorate economic development in Nakusp.

The hot springs, owned by the village for more than 40 years, are seen as one of those pillars for development.

A report to council noted a few hot springs committees have formed, dissolved or become inactive since the establishment of Nakusp Hot Springs.

But it adds that what’s been done by some of those groups is unclear.

“There is limited information regarding some of these committees,” says the report, listing a series of bylaws that appointed and un-appointed several groups. Even the status of the current committee was unclear.

The report to council noted that municipal government experience with a tourism business is limited, and suggested several options for local politicians to consider.

“One option is to hire a consultant. Although this has been done before and there are many documents that have been prepared and could be reviewed,” the report says. “Another option is to continue the existing committee, appoint new members, and review and update the existing terms of reference.”

In the end council decided to re-invigorate the existing committee, putting two councillors on to oversee it, McLaren-Caux and Joseph Hughes. They’re now looking for three other interested persons to sit on the committee.

“It is recommended that other individual appointments should be based on experience and have successful backgrounds in owning their own business, particularly in the hospitality sector, or experience with consultation of hospitality services,” the report suggests.

McLaren-Caux, who used to work at Halcyon Hot Springs, hopes his experience will help guide the facility.

“Most of my career has been in hospitality,” he says. “I’m happy to lend what experience I have had in my private career to help make the hot springs better. It’s doing well, but it can always do better.”

First, however, there is a lot of paperwork to go through, he says.

“It’s still in its early stages. There are reams and reams of work that’s already been done, and needs to be reviewed,” he says. “We’ll get the committee set up, review our terms of reference, then begin reading the many, many chapters of good work that has already been done.”

Some of those past ideas may work for the hot springs now, he says.

“One thing I keep hearing, especially from people who’ve been here a long time, is ‘Oh, we tried that before and it didn’t work,’” he says.

“But things change, things are constantly dynamic, and if you don’t keep trying different things, you’re definitely not going to succeed if you don’t try.”

It’s not the only municipal facility being re-examined. Council also decided to re-invigorate the municipal campground committee that oversees that facility.

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