Over the past few months I’ve bumped into people who’ve recently moved to Quesnel from a variety of places and for equally varied reasons. Many are younger couples who’ve discovered that Quesnel is an affordable community to raise a family in. Unlike most of the communities to the south of us, these working couples can afford to buy a home here and put down roots. Most of them tell me that while an affordable home was the major stimulus for them to consider moving to Quesnel, once they got here they quickly realized that our community has so much more to offer them, from our modern and attractive amenities to our ease of access to nature.
For parents with younger children, Quesnel is particularly attractive, as not only can they afford to enroll their children in multiple sports and after school programs they can also move them between venues with ease because everything is so close and they don’t have to fight traffic. They quickly discover Quesnel offers all the sports, arts, and recreation programs you would find in any larger community and that they are much more accessible and affordable here.
Seniors who are new to Quesnel (again, mostly cashing out down south and initially coming here because of our affordable real estate) tell me they are thrilled with the quality of the health care they can access here. They can quickly find a family doctor, and our hospital offers almost the full range of diagnostics and specialists they would expect in a larger center, but they can generally access these services quicker here. Active seniors also find we have everything they need here to maintain their healthy lifestyle: our riverfront trail and indoor walking programs, easy access hiking and biking trails, free tennis and pickle ball courts, curling, lawn bowling, horseshoe pits. You name it, Quesnel’s got it, they say.
Council’s investments in our new branding strategy, a new off leash dog park, marked bike routes, new playgrounds, the revitalization of Reid Street, and our progressive approach toward creating a modern and vibrant community all make absolute sense to these “newcomers.” Someone who just moved here from Whistler with his young family told me he feels Quesnel is on the cusp of being discovered as a preferred destination for visitors and residents alike, and that we are absolutely on the right track to capitalize on that trend with our investments and branding strategy.
Many longtime residents share the same view of Quesnel as these newcomers and are pleased to see their property tax dollars reinvested in the community in ways that will ensure our community remains vibrant and attractive to visitors, new residents, and to investment. These residents applaud Council’s foresight and proactive approach to the challenges our economic transition confronts us with.
But, there is also a faction within our community that resists change and some who see Quesnel through less than rose-colored glasses. This segment of our community often views the issues that every City struggles with (e.g. crime, discarded needles, panhandling, homelessness) as being unique to Quesnel and a major detractor from our City’s more appealing attributes.
This dynamic tension in how people respond to change exists in all communities and can make it difficult for leaders to lead and Council’s to be proactive. But, I believe the majority of our residents are excited with the changes they see in our community.