By Camille Aubin

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New businesses and facilities have recently opened in Radium Hot Springs despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry.

“There is no denying that the last 15 months have been very challenging for the Village of Radium,” says Jessica Fairhart, Executive Director for Tourism Radium. “But it is so exciting to see new businesses and entrepreneurs as well as amenities and facilities bringing life into the Village.”

When asked what explains the increase of businesses in Radium despite the pandemic, mayor of Radium Clara Reinhardt first explained that “People have confidence, see opportunities, and it’s just a great place to live and do business.” 

There are few businesses that have changed hands recently. According to Reinhardt, “people were tired and ready to retire so the pandemic kind of pushed them a little bit. Add to that the people who are in the city and realize it just wasn’t working for them to be there and not be able to do anything or go outside. Across the country, people are moving to rural areas where they have space. People are looking for more work-life balance.”

The Valley’s residents have been delighting in Radium’s new brewery since the start of June. “Community is important to us, and we hope to become the loungeroom of Radium,” says Steven Gale, one of the owners and brewers of Radium Brewing. “We encourage customers to support other local businesses while here by getting take-out and bringing it into the brewery.”

Radium Brewing focuses on its local craft beers and does not serve food, but you can visit a neighbour’s restaurant, order take-out, and enjoy a cold brew in their recently renovated location.

Speaking of neighbors, the Snackbar nearby is another recent addition to the growing list of businesses in Radium. You’ll find traditional and funky poutine as well as many other tasty options that can be grabbed to go or enjoyed on the patio.

The Mama Bear Bakery, a market favorite, is now offering their yummy bakes at their Radium location. Besides selling her goods at local markets and made-to-order, Vina Benn will also remain open daily for walk-in customers at her new location.

In April, Blooming World became Radium’s first cannabis store after being unanimously approved by first councillors and later by the provincial government. This initiative is owned by Olivier Hogue, who also operates a store of the same name in Invermere. 

Columbia Valley Escape Room is also popular with residents and tourists alike. It was first established in Fairmont and then relocated to Radium. The three immersive escape rooms and engaging storylines make it an exciting addition to Radium’s business. In addition to challenging your intellect, the Escape Room will also dazzle you with the design and detail of each room.

New facilities such as the skating rink in Legend’s Field, a nine-hole disc golf course and the Woodcarver Park will be welcoming additions to Radium.

“I think with any of those, it takes a real driver. The disc golf is something that a core group of men who’ve been wanting to do it for years and finally, had some time to get together and explore the idea and actually move forward with it. So, (the project was) totally driven from the grass roots,” says Reinhardt about the new amenities. Same for the Woodcarver Park; it took a dedicated group of people to form a society, get the fundraising and design to make it happen.” 

The skating rink was part of the master plan of Radium council. The nets for pickleball are a recent addition. “When we started doing the hall and moving to a plan for the park, getting the funding together and getting that in place was huge,” explained Reinhardt. “I have to say, I go by there almost every day, and there are people playing pickleball, there’s somebody on rollerblades, there’s people playing basketball, there’s people on the outdoor exercise equipment up in the north end of the park. The playgrounds are always hopping. It’s just so fun to see people out and using the facilities that we built.”

Splash park construction was recently completed, and the grand opening will take place on Saturday, August 7 at 1:30 p.m., with water guns as one permit is still needed to turn on the tap.

“Over two years ago, a splash park was identified as an ideal feature near the new Radium Community Centre, a recreation facility that would benefit both residents and visitors,” says Dale Shudra, Vice President of Radium Rotary. “We knew it would be quite a challenge for our small club to pull off such a large project. It has been a grind, especially given COVID-19 issues, and it will be great to see it finally completed and enjoyed.”