Over the past few weeks I’ve had a number of people tell me they are excited about the sense of momentum they feel in the community because of all the investments we’re making. Many also feel that the celebratory weekend when we opened the new arena was a turning point for them after this summer’s horrible wildfire season.
Comments like these are heartening, as politicians mostly hear from people who are not happy with what they are doing or who disagree with the decisions they’ve made. Unfortunately, few people go out of their way to talk to us about what they feel is going right, that’s why positive comments like those noted above are so meaningful.
It’s heartening to hear that people feel there is some momentum in the community, as Council has worked hard over the past three years to restructure the City’s finances in order to make strategic investments. Many of the investments we’ve made have been long asked for; for example, the new off leash dog park, investments in our playgrounds, and a downtown accessible washroom. Some are refinements to areas that always appeared unfinished or needed improvement; for example, the repaving of the area around the Legion and the addition of a crosswalk on Kinchant Street.
The two new housing projects currently under construction in North Quesnel certainly add to the sense of momentum people feel. For a number of years, energy and effort had been put into getting new affordable and accessible housing units built in Quesnel without success. The current Council was able to capitalize on this previous work and help bring both the new projects to fruition by creating targeted incentives through a new housing bylaw and by fostering more deliberate partnerships with BC Housing and the project proponents.
Council’s proactive relationship with the Northern Rural Directors of the Cariboo Regional District has also helped to create a climate of cooperation and collaboration that not only led to the successful completion of the new arena, but has also seen us submit two “shovel ready” projects for 100% funding to the Union of BC Municipalities’ Strategic Priorities Fund. One of these projects, a new gymnastics facility, is very timely given the School District’s recent announcement that they will be renovating Maple Drive School, which is the current location for the gymnastics club. Many people are excitedly waiting to hear whether these projects get approved for funding in the New Year.
The good news is that the momentum and progress will continue next year. The big project for next year will be the replacement of the aged water main under Reid Street and the complete rebuilding and revitalization of the road and sidewalks along our three main retail blocks in the downtown core. Next year will also see an exciting new addition built onto the skateboard park and a facelift to the existing park (another long asked for investment). The playground at Patchett Street (where the big red slide is) will be replaced with another fun, modern, and unique play area (the fifth new playground in the City in three years) and the old Lewis Rink will be revitalized into a multi-purpose sports amenity. We have also commenced the initial work on another “shovel ready” project for a new cultural and performing arts facility, and we’re working with the Provincial and Federal governments to get funding made available for these kinds of venues.
All of these investments are strategic and deliberate, and part of our desire to make Quesnel a preferred place to live, visit, and invest in.