Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Maximizing our natural advantage

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Editor's Note -- Weekly Quesnel City Council column written by Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson.  He can be reached via email here

A foundational principle of our economic transition strategy is the desire to take greater advantage of our community’s natural assets in order to make Quesnel an even more attractive place for people to come to as visitors, residents, and investors. This principle is clearly reflected in our City’s new brand and our new tagline, “It’s in our nature.”
The current major investments we’re making in the trail systems surrounding the City reflects this desire to take advantage of our natural assets. However, without question, Quesnel’s location at the confluence of the Quesnel and Fraser Rivers and Baker Creek is one of our strongest natural advantages; one we’ve only nominally been able to maximize the attractiveness and utilization of due primarily to the fact that Highway 97 runs through the centre of our community impacting the aesthetics of large portions of the Quesnel and Fraser Rivers.
While the Riverfront trail system is heavily used, and much appreciated, there is so much more we can do with our riverfront properties. To that end, we’ve been engaged in a comprehensive community consultation process to get residents’ feedback on what kinds of attractions and amenities they would like to see along our riverfronts. The results of the initial consultation (which took place at key locations along the riverfronts last fall) have been condensed into an initial draft options report that will frame our continued engagement and dialogue with the community.
Next week Wednesday, June 5, the project consulting team will be hosting the second round of consultation events based on their draft report at key locations connected to our riverfronts:
  • 8 am - 9:30 am  |  bottom of Bowron Ave
  • 10 am - 11:30am  |  West Fraser Timber Park
  • 12 pm - 1:30 pm  |  Riverfront Trail Shelter (North of walking bridge)
  • 2:30 pm - 4 pm  |  Baker Creek Park
  • 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm  |  Ceal Tingley Park
The desired outcome of this consultation process is the development of a comprehensive and detailed strategy that will provide us with multiple projects we can then seek grant funding for. Two major grant programs are currently open for application that are a good fit for the kinds of projects we hope will come out of this riverfront planning process.
This riverfront development planning project is in addition to the already approved Lhtako Dene Cultural Centre proposed for the current Ceal Tingley Park location. We are still awaiting word from the Union of BC Municipalities on the status of the grant that the Lhtako Dene have applied for that would see this project fully funded by the Federal and Provincial governments. 
Another additional project along the Fraser River that we’re working on is the development of a more appropriate commemorative site at the location of the Tŝilhqot’in Chiefs burial site near the hospital helipad. We’ll be working with Northern Health, the Tŝilhqot’in National Government, and the Lhtako Dene Nation to develop a plan for this site post the addition to GR Baker Memorial Hospital.
While many of the projects being proposed for our riverfronts would be able to proceed while Highway 97 remains on Front Street and Carson Avenue, some would not be developed until the proposed North-South Interconnector is built. However, every riverfront project, and the entire City, will be greatly enhanced by having no highway traffic running through our downtown core.
Please join us at next week’s consultation sessions so you can have your say in the development of our community’s key natural asset. And, stay tuned as the Ministry of Transportation begins work on the design phase of the North-South Interconnector project, because later this year you’ll be invited to participate in that process too.

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