Mayor Bob Simpson says he had the chance to discuss a number of issues with Premier John Horgan on Monday, including their community strategies such as hosting, the development of the waterfront, and the interconnector to name just a few.
He says they also talked about how they can get to decisions a lot faster on larger infrastructure projects such as the Lhtako Dene Cultural Centre or the Rec Centre renovation, that have sort of disappeared into a black hole for a year….
“We don’t know the status of those, we don’t know if they’re approved or not approved, and over the course of the year, there has been price inflation on construction. So when money is put aside for infrastructure projects in communities like ours, that money needs to flow out the door a lot faster and we need to get to a yes or even a no a lot faster. The province does have existing programs, monies being deployed but sometimes the bureaucracy, the slowness in decision making, etc, get in the way of us maximizing those opportunities.”
Simpson says they also talked a lot about forestry, including a stumbling block in community wildfire protection that he says requires different kinds of logging and different kinds of hand treatments for fuel management…
“We butt up against the fact that we attract regular stumpage for what is really very pricey specialty logging. It’s a way that we can create jobs in our community, it’s a way we can put contractors to work, but working under the current price system it is cost-prohibitive for us.”
Simpson says the Premier was very aware of the issue and he has asked an Assistant Deputy Minister to work with the city on it.
He says they also got a request in for some funding from the province for a research project that involves Laval University, the University of British Columbia and other research institutes, that would be housed in Quesnel over the next five years, and would see researchers come in to do several projects.
The Community forest was also on the agenda as was agriculture and Quesnel’s regional food innovation hub…
“Looking at food processing, looking at different ways to take what we can grow locally, and turn it into actual products that can be sold not just in the region but in the province and across Canada. The entrepreneurs that we had in the room were very excited and they excited us because of their ideas, everything from making crackers and processing coffee, making just-in-time food, all of the things that are being made elsewhere that we can start to make here and feed a local and regional market.”
Simpson says they’re hoping to announce in the next few weeks the location for that food innovation hub.
The Premier has since moved on to Prince George where he will meet with a number of northern Mayors on Tuesday, including Simpson, on the opioid crisis and some of the issues that have come out of that.