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A communications strategy is in place for a referendum to borrow money to upgrade the Quesnel Rec Centre

The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee approved a communication plan for the upcoming referendum at Tuesday night’s monthly meeting.

Residents will be asked to borrow up to 20 million dollars to upgrade the Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre at a cost of approximately 45 dollars per 100 thousand dollars of assessment for 25 years.

One point that made Tuesday night by Mayor Bob Simpson though was also the cost of not approving the referendum.

“I would like to see a higher profile in the communication for the what if I vote no portion.   I think it’s well placed in there in terms of a 6.5 million dollar nominal investment just to keep the same as we’ve got and upgrade the systems.  But I do think that needs to be beefed up a little bit and in the actual form of communications it has to be highlighted that people understand there is a fiscal consequence to them saying no, they don’t get a pass where we’re just going to age this facility out.”

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John Massier, the Cariboo Regional District Director for Area C, wanted to highlight the fact that upgrading the rec centre was a high priority for residents in a survey done several years ago…

“When we went to the public years ago before the arena got built, replacing the pool was the number two project.   In my mind it was like 48 percent compared to 52 percent that wanted to go with the arena first.    There was very strong support at that time for this very project and rebuilding the pool and upgrading it, so I would like somewhere a little more front and center.”

The communication strategy will still include the usual tools such as advertising and media releases but not public meetings and open houses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeff Norburn, the Director of Community Services with the City, explained.

“Interactive public meetings are essential and have been addressed in the plan, primarily through the use of Facebook live events, and depending on the status of the pandemic in the spring, providing interactive opportunities at outdoor events like the farmer’s market.   The plan recognizes that many North Cariboo and Recreation and Parks residents do not have access to reliable broadband internet. Residents who unable to participate in on-line events due to a lack of internet connectivity will be provided with digital versions of the event on request.”

The Committee also agreed on making a joint statement about the referendum and staff is expected to come up with that statement to be discussed at the next meeting.

A referendum is scheduled for June 19th.

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