Referendum Time!

June 16, 2021
Council Column

As everyone living in the North Cariboo Recreation Area should now be well aware, the final opportunity to vote on the borrowing authority for the $20 million pool renovation and substantial upgrade is this Saturday, June 19, from 8 am to 8 pm.

Throughout the early part of this year, every means of communication available to the Cariboo Regional District and City of Quesnel staff has been used to reach and inform residents of this critically important project: newspaper ads and stories; radio ads and stories; social media bulletins and events; and, a detailed householder mailed to every impacted and eligible ratepayer.

Multiple opportunities have also been made available to register your vote; including mail-in ballots and two advance voting days. So, if you haven’t had a chance to mark your ballot, this Saturday is your final opportunity. Voting stations will be open at Barlow Creek School, Bouchie Lake School, Ecole Red Bluff/Lhtako Elementary, Quesnel Seniors Centre, and the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre.

Again, all these locations will be open from 8 am to 8 pm this Saturday, June 19.

This substantial upgrade to the aquatic centre is overdue and essential in order to extend the life of the main pool and to modernize the leisure pool area so it has many of the features that people now look for in aquatic facilities.

In a major survey conducted in 2014 in advance of the successful arena replacement referendum, an upgrade to the Arts and Recreation center was a clear desire of the general public that participated in that survey. Twice since then, a project to upgrade and modernize the aquatic center has been submitted for grant funding without success.

Unfortunately, we have no idea when and if another grant opportunity will be made available by the Federal and Provincial governments, and we have no guarantee that another grant submission would be any more successful than the previous two. In the meantime, the pool facility keeps ageing and the construction costs to undertake the much-needed upgrade project have escalated substantially: from $13 million when we first submitted it for grant funding to the $20 million estimate we have based the referendum on. 

Therefore, the members of the North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee (made up of the four Northern Rural Directors of the Cariboo Regional District and Quesnel City Council) decided to put the question to the ratepayers directly: will you allow the Cariboo Regional District to borrow the $20 million needed to get this project done?

Of course, for legal reasons, the referendum question isn’t that straightforward, as we also need to ask a secondary question in order to create the tax collection room in the North Cariboo Recreation function to pay for the borrowing authority if voters give us the ability to borrow the $20 million for the project. But, to restate, that second question, while confusing to some, is only to allow us to change the taxation ceiling in the Recreation function in order to pay for the debt and to cover the incremental operating costs of the expanded facility.

Modern recreation amenities are critical for retaining and attracting residents and workers. If this referendum fails, the pool will still need approximately $6 million in order to maintain its operations as is, and each year thereafter we’ll be one year closer to a full replacement of the facility (or shutting it down), which will cost substantially more than $20 million.

Please, if you haven’t voted already, make sure you mark your ballot this Saturday and enable us to undertake this critically important project as soon as possible.

Mayor Bob Simpson

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