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HomeNewsQuesnel City Council changes its mind on priority for funding application

Quesnel City Council changes its mind on priority for funding application

Councillors, at last week’s North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee meeting, unanimously favoured event flooring and storage at the West Fraser Centre.

That was  the recommendation that came out of that vote for an application to the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program.

But the new focus, after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting following the recommendation of staff, is for a new bike park and trails revitalization behind the Rec Centre.

City Manager Byron Johnson says staff feels it is a stronger application for this program and has a better chance at success…

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“It fits the criteria better.    In particular, the bike park project create immediate employment developing trails, and one of the focuses with this grant is immediate employment.    The event flooring project will have community economic benefits in the long run, which will likely generate employment as well, but that is in the long run after community events are allowed again, and once people start coming back to those types of events.”

Johnson says it also mitigates the effects of the pandemic better as it is easier to socially distance outside, and he says it is part of the city’s strategic plan.

There was some hesitation about changing paths, as the recommendation was made along with the northern Cariboo Regional District Directors, with another project being recommended to the CRD to consider.

Councillor Martin Runge…

“We talked about this with the gymnastics center and I don’t want to be the other flip side of the coin, saying we fully endorse something and then the next week we decide no we’re not going to endorse it, and go onto to something else.”

Mayor Bob Simpson noted however that this was different…

“From a process perspective, Joint Planning has made a recommendation.    Council members were part of that recommendation, and it’s just a recommendation for Council to consider a grant application.   It’s not a this is what you must do, and Joint Plannning can’t direct Council in Council applications.    In the case of gymnastics, Council actually offered to the North Cariboo Rec function to be the lead proponent and believed that we had agreement to get that alignment to be the lead proponent, and then of course there was a disagreement or misunderstanding of that decision.”

Councillor Mitch Vik also expressed some concerns…

“That relationship we have with the Joint Planning Committee, I really feel needs work.   And it does cause me some angst that a decision that we’ve made is going to be changed, and I understand its process and it’s a recommendation to Council, but it still feels that we’re at odds.”

In the end, Council did vote to change course.

Councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg noted that they didn’t have all of the information before the previous vote…

“It was carried unanimously, but having this other information coming forward, and for me the key piece of this new information is the strength of application.    When we talk about immediate employment I think that is a piece that was missing in the discussion last Tuesday.   When we talk about design to mitigate the effects of the pandemic that was kind of missing in the discussion also.”

Only Councillor Tony Goulet was opposed to the change…

“I think there are opportunities there as we move forward.    We’re not going to be under COVID I don’t believe for a long time, at some point restrictions are going to be lifted to give us an opportunity to use that flooring more.”

Mayor Simpson noted however that there still wasn’t a business case for the flooring, and that the trails component was a big part of their strategic planning.

Staff will come back to the next Council meeting with a final report to vote on.

Council isn’t giving up on the flooring at the West Fraser Centre though.

It also approved a motion to go back to Joint Planning and discuss getting the work done to be able to put a business case and a grant ready application around a floor for West Fraser Centre, for when more funding becomes available.

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