More changes coming to the Riverfront Trail

April 27, 2022
Council Column

Several people have noted that things seem to be changing along the Quesnel River portion of the Riverfront Trail; most notably, the City’s fire trucks are parked in the old public works facility, there’s been land clearing on the former Utilities site, and the “yellow dozer” has been removed. However, none of these changes should come as a surprise to the public, as they’ve been communicated numerous times and are part of our overall community renewal strategy.

Using the old Public Works Yard as a location for the City’s #1 Firehall is simply a temporary measure while that firehall gets a complete upgrade. This $4 million project is now underway and will be completed by 2023, at which time the old Public Works Yard will be vacated and we can start to plan for its remediation as per our Waterfront Plan.

The Waterfront Plan was developed with significant input from the public and the land clearing at the old Utilities Yard and the removal of the “yellow dozer” on the downstream side of the Johnston Bridge along the Quesnel River are an outcome of that plan. This entire area will now be converted into an on-river RV Park and Campground this spring and summer. Again, this is a project that’s funded by grants from the provincial and federal governments and Northern Development Trust.

This summer will also see more changes along the Riverfront Trail, all in alignment with our Waterfront Plan. In particular, the Fraser River portion of the Trail will see significant upgrades; including lighting, changes to the Front Street entrance to the Walking Bridge, new benches, and new signage. We’d hoped this particular project would have been more advanced by this time, but there have been some due diligence delays as we work on getting the appropriate approvals from other agencies, particularly First Nations approvals based on a robust archeological assessment. 

In fact, the entire Riverfront Trail will see all of its signage refreshed this year. The current interpretative signage is dated, both physically and socially (i.e. inappropriate and inaccurate) and will be replaced with upgraded signs. So, please don’t be surprised when the current signage is removed to make way for the new signs. 

Over the past few years, we’ve also been working collaboratively with the Lhtako Dene Nation to restore their history to the riverfronts in the City. The Lhtako Dene lived at the confluence of the Fraser and Quesnel Rivers and Baker Creek for millennia prior to “discovery” and yet their rich history is notably missing from what is unquestionably their traditional territory. Instead, only the old artifacts of settlement are represented along the Riverfront Trail, some of which are not even a part of the history of our community (like the Steam Shovel, which is part of Likely’s history). 

Next month, we’re hoping to put the finishing touches on and secure the finances for a major First Nations cultural project along the Fraser portion of the Riverfront Trail. This project has been developed in full consultation with Lhtako Elders, Chief and Council and would see Lhtako and the City work together to restore some measure of the rich history of the Southern Dakelh to the riverfronts that they lived on for millennia and that is still their traditional territory to this day.

Stay tuned, more exciting changes are coming to the City’s riverfronts as we continue to implement our Waterfront Plan.

Mayor Simpson

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