Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson is back from a week of meetings with BC Cabinet Ministers in Victoria with some good news.
He says he had 19 different minister meetings in total.
“The meetings with the Ministers were great. It was really good to bring them up to speed, and in some cases we needed some more immediate supports from them. In other cases we are really working the long game and making sure that the Minister and their senior staff are aware of what we’re doing, so when we come to them for assistance or resources or partnerships they’re ready for that.”
Simpson says one of the short term gains was some top up money for the food hub on Marsh Drive in West Quesnel.
“Because we were one of the early entrants into that program we got half a million dollars to start up. Subsequent food innovation hubs were actually given 750 thousand dollars to start up, so I was talking to the Ministers about our need to have a top up of that kind to be able to move our initiative forward fairly quickly.”
Simpson says the next phase is the distribution.
“Which requires us to pick up a refrigeration truck and to begin a process of distributing the food that is going to be processed in there around the area that we’re responsible for, and then we also want to work with all of the potential processors in a cooperative marketing program. So rather than just saying it’s another 250 thousand, staff are actually working with the province on what the actual dollars that we need. We talked as much as maybe 300 thousand between now and the next fiscal year.”
Simpson says another short term gain revolves around the city building a new facility for childcare spaces.
“Because of the supply chain issues and pricing issues that we’re all experiencing, the quote that we got for building that facility far exceeds the grant that we’ve been given by the province, and it’s very hard for us to justify using property tax dollars to build that facility and to operate. So we’re working now with the government on fixing that problem that’s as much as a 1.3 million dollar difference.”
Simpson says staff are now working with the provincial staff to fix that problem and get on with that project as well.
He says he learned a lot during the week about programs that the government has in place that were aligned with what the city is trying to do.
“For example some of the industry funds that may be able to assist us with our desire for a district heating system based on waste heat, some of the Clean BC funding for some of our climate initiatives that’s becoming available for communities, some new funds that are supposed to be announced at the end of this month that are associated with community transition relative to the old growth deferrals that were announced last week.”
Simpson says he also talked about the Interconnector project and advancing it through their process, and then some other treasury board submissions that are going forward in health and education.
One meeting he wasn’t able to have was with Premier John Horgan.
He says that meeting will now take place on ZOOM once the Premier’s health stabilizes.