Mayor Bob Simpson is responding to criticism about talk of a parcel tax to pay for future major investments in the West Quesnel Land Stability area, if there are any.
Simpson says right now nothing is planned, and he says in the end the residents would have to consent to it.
“There is no contemplated investments, therefore there is no contemplated parcel tax. If there was a contemplated investment and the parcel tax policy was going to be applied, the residents would be the the ones who would determine whether or not that investment would be made, not Council.”
Simpson says it is policy practiced in all communities that if a large investment is going to be made in a portion of the city, then the individuals that benefit from it pay for it.
He uses a new water system as an example.
Simpson adds that they will continue to maintain and monitor the equipment however, and he says they also have two major road investments planned for that area.
“West Quesnel is a large portion, it’s about 20 percent of the city residential population, so it will still be seeing investments, just like we make in South Quesnel, just like we make in North Quesnel and Johnston Sub. If you take a look at our 5 year capital plan there is two very large scale investments to be made on two of the streets over on the west side, one this year and one in 2023, so we’re not going to be walking away from West Quesnel.”
He says this week’s report at Council was simply an update to the public stating that they don’t plan to do any more major investments in that area because the 17-million dollar “science experiment” doesn’t seem to be having the effect that they had hoped for.
“So all that happened at Council was the data suggests that that slide is still moving. The experts say it may have moved more if we hadn’t made the investments, but the investments certainly has not stabilized the slide so that no movement is occurring. So as a consequence Council then needs to make some decisions about what we do going forward, and Council’s decision based on expert advice and staff advice, is we’re not going to be doing any more investments in dewatering wells and horizontal drains.”
Simpson says some people are also upset that they won’t be getting compensation for their homes that have been damaged because of land movement.
“People want the truth from politicians and when they get the truth then it upsets them, you can’t really win. The truth is for years certain Council members that are no longer on Council kept promising to the West Quesnel residents whose properties were pulled apart by the slide, that they would go to Victoria or the federal government and get them money. So we were very deliberate in working with the federal government through disaster financing and through Emergency Management BC to ask those questions, and the answer we got back is no.”
Simpson says unfortunately there just isn’t a funding program that would support those residents.
There are approximately 750 homes in the West Quesnel Land Stability area.