Residents in Quesnel and the surrounding area will head to the polls in June to approve refurbishing the pool at the Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre.
The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee received a draft of their proposed communications plan related to the referendum during their meeting on Feb. 9.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced changes to the usual referendum plans the CRD uses.
“Two-way communications opportunities are an effective public outreach tool and should be part of the communications plan,” the plan reads. “To that end we are planning to produce live, interactive public sessions via Facebook Live (number of presentations still to be determined). These presentations will be available for viewing after the event via links on the City of Quesnel and CRD websites and as USB drives to share with residents without broadband capability.”
The project would see the Cariboo Regional District borrow $20 million to refurbish the area around the swimming pool. Members of the committee noted after a new arena, this was a top priority for voters in a 2014 survey. Taxes in the region would increase around $45 per $100,000 on assessments to help pay for construction and operating costs.
In 2014, voters in the district overwhelmingly approved borrowing $7.5 million to build what became the West Fraser Centre arena.
The upgrade would include a new leisure pool, hot tub, sauna and change rooms. The leisure pool would feature a “tot’s playing area,” and lazy river. The current 25 metre pool will not be replaced, but the area around the pool will be upgraded. The committee is also planning smaller upgrades around the building while construction takes place. Keeping the pool open would increase the project’s duration and cost significantly.
Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson noted the consequences of not approving the spending should be made more prominent in their FAQ. The document notes the facility is aging, and will require spending and upgrades even if the referendum fails.
“It is reasonable to expect that if a significant investment is not made soon, the facility will become increasingly outdated and fall further into disrepair or will require a substantial investment in order to address basic mechanical, electrical, and structural needs of this aging 40 year old infrastructure,” the FAQ reads, adding a 2017 estimate put repair costs with no new amenities at $6.5 million alone.
If approved construction at the centre would begin in 2022. While the pool will remain closed during construction, most other programming at the centre will continue through the 12-14 month project.
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