The City of Quesnel has opened the new Spirit Centre, adjacent to Spirit Square.
The Spirit Centre is the home of accessible public washrooms, a community event promotion space, a new office for the Quesnel Downtown Association, and a satellite office for Barkerville Historic Town and Park.
“The building that we were retrofitting we encountered some issues as we do with older buildings, but after those were taken care of. It was basically a two and a half month renovation job,” says Mayor Bob Simpson who notes that the original plans were to open the Centre for this year’s Billy Barker Days.
“Of course Billy Barker Days was canceled. The first use of the building became the Wildfire Branch’s information kiosk. I hadn’t even entered the building, our City staff hadn’t even gotten in, we had just been given the keys by the construction contractor and the Wildfire Branch was asking us if they could have a place downtown to give people information about wildfires. It was a just a perfect place.”
“They set up in there, they had all their maps, all their information bulletins, two information officers stayed in the facility and answered the questions of residents and evacuees. It was if you will an unfortunate circumstance but a really good use of the facility.”
In a news release on July 26 the City states:
- There has been a long-standing community desire to have accessible public washrooms in the downtown core. This facility makes it possible for more people to spend more time downtown, especially seniors and young families. Having public washrooms downtown also encourages travellers on highway 97 to stop downtown. Once off the highway, they may take
- The community event promotion space will be available for non-profit organizations hosting events in Quesnel. This location may be used to sell tickets, recruit volunteers, and promote upcoming events to downtown traffic. It is currently being used by the BC Wildfire Service to provide information to the community about fires in the region.
- Offices for the Quesnel Downtown Association and Barkerville Historic Town and Park will make both of these organizations more accessible to the public. These organizations will be moving into their offices in early August.
“The Quesnel Downtown Association’s move to Spirit Centre will make us more accessible and visible than our present location. Having our offices at street level will make it easier to deal with our downtown business members and with the public at large,” said Bruce Broughton, President, Quesnel Downtown Association.
Simpson says the project was made possible with $120,000 from the Province of BC’s Rural Dividend Program to improve accessibility downtown, $60,000 from the Northern Development Initiative Trust’s (NDIT) Community Halls and Recreation Facilities, and also Pine Beetle Recovery Funds.
“Northern Development Initiative Trust is proud to support this project which provides a gathering space for community groups, promotion of events encouraging the growth of the tourism sector, and an accessible public washroom improving downtown vitality in Quesnel,” said Joel McKay CEO of NDIT.
A grand opening event and community celebration for Spirit Centre is scheduled to take place on September 23.