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Public consultation planned for second Quesnel pool referendum project

The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee met on March 8
The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee is made up of Quesnel City Councillors and Cariboo Regional District Directors. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

The Quesnel and District Rec Centre pool referendum will not take place alongside the October municipal elections.

The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee, which is made up of Quesnel city council and Cariboo Regional District directors, approved a public consultation process which will see staff analyze the results and report back to the committee in September, only a month before elections take place.

At a meeting in December, committee members committed to having another referendum for renovating the Arts and Recreation Centre by April of 2023.

“We’re simply fact-finding to provide fodder for the next elected council and next elected joint advisory committee, this is not the referendum consultation,” Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson said.

“This is a preliminary conversation with the community about what kind of things would you like to see in a rec centre project.”

READ MORE: Quesnel pool referendum will be held but date, project scope not set

The committee has debated many different pricing options for the second referendum over the past year-and-a-half, from a bare bones renovation, to a complete overhaul. The committee plans to present each option to voters through the consultation, to see which one residents prefer.

A $20 million dollar project, which did not include amenities like a waterslide, was defeated by voters in the recreation area in June of 2021. Staff reported that specific project would cost much more now, due to construction cost increases.

READ MORE: Cariboo Regional District, Quesnel residents shoot down pool renovations in referendum

The immediate area around Quesnel is included in the recreation area.

The public consultation is budgeted to cost $35,000, with $25,000 set aside for design work, and $10,000 for communication expenses. The plan is to centre the consultations online on the city of Quesnel’s Let’s Connect platform, and in person with two town halls.

City and district staff noted that in recent Quesnel-focused consultations on Let’s Connect, such as LeBourdais Park, over a third of participants lived outside of city limits.

The public engagement would take place between May 2 and June 24, with staff reporting back to council on Sept. 13. The North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee usually does not meet in July or August.

The committee discussed changing the time frame for the consultation to allow for the consultation to take place over a shorter time frame, but ultimately decided against it.

“It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way the timeline has to work,” Quesnel city councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, who chaired the meeting, said.

“I personally think it’s a waste of time and energy for staff and (the committee) to try and get the public out during the summer, especially if they’re able to travel and do whatever they can this summer. There’s not going to be anyone around.”

In the staff report, public consultation is set to begin on May 2. The dates and times for open houses have not been set.

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