Discussion of the issues that affect you on a local, provincial and federal level
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
The importance of the Interconnector Project
Weekly Column by Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson:
Unfortunately, the rain (which we need) limited the number of people who engaged in our Waterfront Plan consultation process last week. However, over the course of the three days the consultants were in town, we got quality feedback and had significant engagement with local First Nations, key business stakeholders, and a reasonable cross-section of Quesnel’s citizens.
The majority of people who engaged in the process were excited about the prospects of developing our riverfronts and enhancing our community’s livability and attractiveness. Some participants expressed concerns about the affordability of this initiative and some expressed concerns that these new venues might be compromised by vagrancy and vandalism.
On the latter, we’re working with all of the social service and health agencies to provide more supports to people in need in our community and will see more supportive housing projects built starting this summer. We’ve also added more policing resources and will be creating new bylaw tools to ensure our public spaces remain safe places for all citizens to enjoy.
With respect to affordability, the process for this Waterfront Plan has been funded by grants and it’s our intention to create discrete projects from the strategy that will be eligible for future grant funding. However, developing the riverfronts is a key component of our Economic Transition Strategy, and Council believes investing in new venues and amenities along our riverfronts will be a significant visitor, resident, and investment attractor and is necessary to ensure we remain a resilient and sustainable community during this challenging transition period.
Equally critical to a resilient future is achieving the North-South Interconnector.
Unfortunately, a small group of residents who will be directly impacted by this proposed project have been spreading disinformation about the Interconnector and have created some confusion in our community about the proposed route and the process that led to this route being selected.
The route being proposed would see the current bridges over the Quesnel River and the railway tracks replaced upstream of their present location and a four-lane strip of highway built parallel to the railway tracks, joining the existing highway around the Super Save gas station. This new section of highway would have two four lane bridges with no overhead structures and bike and pedestrian lanes, no cross streets on the road section, and easy access/egress from the downtown built into the two intersections at the north and south ends of the interconnector.
This is the right project at a critical time for our community and it has the full support of our business community, industrial employers, and the vast majority of citizens who participated in the significant community engagement process conducted by the Ministry of Transportation over a two year period leading up to the decision to pursue this route.
Quesnel City Council fully endorses this proposed Interconnector as it meets all of our community needs and is the most likely route to actually be built in the near term. When built, it will remove all commercial truck and highway through traffic from our downtown; helping to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety and air quality in our City’s core. Equally important, it will transform our City’s downtown, making it even more attractive to visitors, residents, and investors.
Please inform yourself about this important project (which is now in the design phase) by reviewing the Ministry of Transportation’s Questions and Answers document at: http://bit.ly/2KFE24a. Let’s not allow a few people to distort the dialogue about this critically important infrastructure project.
Bob Simpson is the Mayor of Quesnel. He can be reached via email here