The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee (NCJAC) remains divided on the idea of returning to referendum to update the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre, and no decision on the future of the project was made at their October meeting.
A June referendum to approve borrowing $20 million to renovate was narrowly defeated with low voter turnout. Construction costs continue to escalate. City and Cariboo Regional District (CRD) staff estimate the project will now cost over 24 million.
The NCJAC was given three options at a September meeting. Do nothing, do shorter term renovations with a short term sharper tax increase or go back to referendum in October of 2022 alongside municipal elections.
While all councillors and CRD directors agreed doing nothing was not an option, they were divided on what to do next. City staff returned with a report asking for $15K to go back to the public to see what they want.
Despite the divided factions, representatives on both sides of the referendum debate agreed spending that money on a communications consultant was a waste of money.
Committee co-chair Jim Glassford was one of the few members advocating to go to consultation, noting he would not support any referendum without further public input.
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson noted consultation of this nature usually only draws a couple hundred people, and the committee will not get any clear answers.
The motion to spend money to consult with the public was tabled, and city and CRD staff will return with further analysis of the second option.
“Some of us are looking at that option B and saying ‘holy crap that’s very disruptive for that rec centre, its not an efficient use of taxpayer money,’” he said. “I’ve characterized it as lipstick on a pig. Is it, or isn’t it?”
The meeting was the NCJAC’s in-person meeting in 2021 at Quesnel city hall.
They also provided feedback and approved on the North Cariboo Recreation and Parks 2022 -2026 business plan fine tuning the budget’s 2022 goals.
The committee added a new goal for the year. They’re at the early stages of planning a new hardcourt facility in Quesnel for pickleball, basketball and other indoor sports.
They also updated language around issues and trends faced by the parks and recreation service.
The budget calls for a four per cent increase in taxation, the same as previous years, which amounts to $165,485. Four per cent increases are planned from 2022 – 2026.
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