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Politicians split on holding another referendum to pay for pool renovations in Quesnel

Should they hold another referendum asking the public to borrow money to renovate the pool at the Quesnel Rec Centre ?

The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee wrestled with that question for more than an hour at last (Tuesday) night’s meeting.

For the most part the divide was between members of Quesnel City Council and the northern Cariboo Regional District Directors.

Jim Glassford is the CRD Director for Area I.

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“For me going to a referendum right away is a non starter I guess because the people have spoken, and it’s not like we have a significantly different project.   I think we should pick one thing on this list of stuff that we’ve got, and start picking them off maybe a year or every two years.”

Glassford, Mary Sjostorm and Barb Bachmeier preferred instead to just do some needed projects at the Rec Centre.

Sjostrom also suggested that they needed to go back to the public for direction before holding another referendum.

“I think we are in a position right now where we need to be affordable and I think we need to take it back out to the public.  I say lets offer them some options, lets at least let them have a conversation.”

Mayor Bob Simpson felt that holding the referendum during the next municipal election was the best thing to do.

“To fail to go back to the public during a general election to see what the actual voting public says about this is the wrong thing to do, because all we’re doing is punting this issue further down the line.  We are going to patch this thing and hold it together, and then the cost is going to be obscenely higher.”

The referendum to borrow up to 20 million dollars for the project failed back in June by a vote of 1,001 to 941.

The cost for that same project is now estimated at 24.5 million dollars, although there was some discussion about potentially scaling the project down.

John Massier, the CRD Director for Area C, was on board with another referendum but he did throw a bit of a possible wrinkle into that.

“I don’t know if referendums necessarily have to be a take it or leave it, like this is the one thing we’re going to put out in front of you and you either say yes or no.   Is there a chance to have a referendum of choices of a 10 million dollar project over 25 years that just gives you what you have now and ensures it’s going to run for a little bit longer, and maybe a plan B or a plan C ?”

In the end, the committee landed on a compromise to do a public education and engagement campaign before revisiting the question in the New Year.

 

THREE OPTIONS PRESENTED AT LAST NIGHT’S MEETING AND THEIR TAXATION

1. If no action is taken there would be no immediate impact on taxation.  It is reasonable to assume however that at some time in the future an investment will be required to upgrade or replace the swimming pool at the Arts and Recreation Centre and that these costs will exceed any costs projected for either of the other options presented.

2. If a reduced scope phase project is undertaken as proposed it would result in a tax increase of $10 million over 5 years which would equate to an increase in residential taxation of approximately $2 million per year which would equal an increase in residential taxation of $67.64 / $100,000 of assessed value per year.

3. If a second referendum is held and is successful to borrow $24.5 million, the estimated impact on residential taxation, including anticipated increased operating costs, is $53.19 /$100,000 of assessed value per year.

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