It’s going to be a busy building season in Quesnel this year as significant public sector investments are undertaken in our community.
The arena replacement project is now well underway. This $20 million North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee project is funded by subregional recreation taxation with assistance from the Province of BC ($4 million), Northern Development Initiative Trust ($2 million), and community fundraising ($1.5 million; including a $1 million contribution from West Fraser Mills). The new arena will have an NHL-sized ice surface, just under 1400 seats on three sides, a feature wood ceiling and other wood highlights, and an accessible walking track. The bulk of this project involves local contractors and workers, so the majority of the public money spent on replacing the old arena will directly benefit our local economy.
Work has also begun on Phase 2 of the West Quesnel Land Stability (WQLS) Project. This is a $7.2 million dewatering and storm drain project designed to stabilize a slide area that includes over 750 homes in West Quesnel. The provincial and federal governments are each contributing $2.4 million toward this project, with City taxpayers making up the additional $2.4 million. The initial work involved taking down the small cabin structures on the property around the Elks Hall on Anderson Drive. This property will initially be used as a marshaling area for the WQLS project before developing it into a natural infiltration green space to treat the water coming from the new storm drain system prior to it entering Baker Creek.
In addition to these major projects, the City of Quesnel will also be investing in road and sidewalk rebuilding and rehabilitation; work towards a new water well and a reservoir upgrade in West Quesnel; improvements to our storm drain and sewer systems; parks, playground, and trail upgrades; the complete rebuild of the water wheel at the Walking Bridge; technological improvements at the airport that will result in a higher percentage of landings; and, the conversion of most of our incandescent streets lights to LED lights. These wide-ranging investments total almost $7 million this year and are made possible, in part, as a result of Council’s restructuring of the City’s budget to address an infrastructure deficit and take advantage of federal and provincial infrastructure programs.
Parallel with these local taxpayer investments in our community, BC Hydro will be investing $10 million over the next three years in a significant upgrade of their power distribution system throughout the City (transformers, insulators, new poles, and upgrades to underground lines) and Northern Health has completed the new Primary Care Clinic and begun planning for a new addition to the hospital that would see Quesnel have a modern emergency department and intensive care unit.
These public sector investments in Quesnel are critical to maintain the vibrancy and resiliency of our community and to create a solid foundation for private sector investment. A number of significant investments in our local mills are in the planning stages or pending, and we’re beginning to see some new investments in the commercial sector as well -- all signs of continued confidence in the future of our community.