The hot springs could be used as the basis of a whole wellness industry in town, says Bender.

The hot springs could be used as the basis of a whole wellness industry in town, says Bender.

Should we change Nakusp’s name?

This businessman says ‘yes’, and thinks it could mean big money for the village

A Nakusp businessman is trying to rekindle the debate over the village’s name.

Karl Bender says locals should consider changing the community’s name from Nakusp to Nakusp Hot Springs.

“It would actually enhance our searches on social media,” he says. “Someone would look at Nakusp, and “hot springs” would immediately come up, like Harrison Hot Springs or Radium Hot Springs. So you would be in a field where you would actually stand out.”

Bender’s idea isn’t new. In fact, the town held a referendum on the very issue back in 2005. After months of heated debate, the idea was decisively slapped down, 87 for, 607 against.

But he thinks it’s time to re-visit the concept.

“We don’t want to change the name, we only want to add to it,” the restaurateur says. “We would not be changing the history of the place. I know lots of people here are frontier people who came to Nakusp, and we don’t want to lose any of that old history. But adding “Hot Springs” would open up Nakusp for a broader market.”

Bender, originally from Germany, thinks the town is missing on opportunities to grow on its natural resources.

“I am a physiotherapist by training, and the hot springs are part of the reason I settled here,” he says. “I would like to see this more as a productive facility.

“Let’s make this a wellness town. That’s what I would like to see. Everybody would benefit from it. It would bring in people year-round — Baby Boomers coming out for their health, the money is there and people like to spend it.”

Re-branding the town’s name by adding ‘Hot Springs’ would not only help market it better, but perhaps bring investment in creating more health-related facilities, he says.

To get another referendum on the ballot for this fall’s municipal election, Bender would have to start collecting names on a petition to present to council. Right now, though, he’s just raising the trial balloon to see if there’s any interest in the concept.

“Coming from Europe, where we have had spa treatments for 2,000 years, we know this water is a precious resource,” he says. “Right now it’s like someone is standing at the end of the pool, and throwing $100 bills into the Kuskanax Creek. It’s being wasted as just a hot tub.”

“This is a young country, there is no health history here. I don’t know why we don’t cash in on it better.”