Interconnector at top of mind for Quesnel mayor during Victoria visit

Bob Simpson is meeting with government officials and bureaucrats in Victoria this week

Mayor Bob Simpson will be in Victoria meeting with provincial officials this week. (File Photo)

Mayor Bob Simpson will be in Victoria meeting with provincial officials this week. (File Photo)

In a way, it’s back to normal for Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson.

The former MLA has scheduled at least 15 meetings with provincial leaders in Victoria and he couldn’t be happier.

“This is awesome, we’ve had Zoom meetings with ministers in the interim, but it’s not the same as in-person,” Simpson said, noting he was also planning to grab coffee with friends in government.

“That kind of networking, you can’t do over Zoom.”

Simpson said he would also be meeting with senior bureaucrats and members of the opposition BC Liberals.

“That ability to be in-person goes a long way as humans,” he said.

“(Quesnel) has a really good reputation with the provincial government and other grant funding agencies of being a community with a vision that is able to put in really good applications and really good ideas… That reputation gets us a lot of access.”

One of the meetings Simpson has lined up is with the minister of transportation and infrastructure, Rob Fleming. The ministry recently sent a letter to Quesnel council letting them know that road repairs in the Cariboo have meant the interconnector Quesnel highway bypass has been put on the backburner.

Simpson said a recent council meeting he hopes the government can recognize the project has wider implications on the provincial transportation network, and shouldn’t be funded through dollars only allocated for the Cariboo.

READ MORE: MOTI not prioritizing Quesnel interconnector route

Simpson said the next phase of the project will be to take it from a concept to an actual project.

“So the next phase isn’t the commitment to build the interconnector and fund the full amount, but because we can’t move it to the next technical appraisal phase, it’s forcing the ministry of transportation to start looking at bridge projects,” he said.

“I would hope that we can stop that lens and switch it back to the interconnector lens.”

Meetings with the minister of forestry, minister of housing and minister of the environment are also scheduled.

“For each of the ministers, what I do is I look at what the government is trying to achieve, and what we’re trying to achieve, and I look for the alignment,” Simpson said.

“That’s where the point of conversation is with the ministers, where we’re aligned and where we can work together.”

A new idea Simpson said he will be bringing to the premier’s office is broadening the kinds of projects the province helps fund inside municipalities.

“The government really needs to be able to finance some of our reconciliation with First Nations, particularly around capitol-type projects, where we want to collaborate together,” he said.

“We have at least three major potential projects that not only transform our relationship with First Nations, but transform our community and give us new amenities that make our community a pretty interesting place for visitors and tourists.”

Simpson arrived in Victoria on Sunday, Oct. 31, and will be returning to Quesnel the next weekend.

READ MORE: Local First Nations will help design Residential School memorial in Quesnel

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