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Quesnel council supports two grant applications for cultural pieces at Lhtako Dene Park

Funding being sought from Infrastructure Canada and Northern Development Initiative Trust
Ceal Tingley Park was renamed Lhtako Dene Park on June 21, 2022. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

Quesnel city council has approved submitting two grant applications for new cultural pieces at Lhtako Dene Park.

The applications to Infrastructure Canada’s Natural Infrastructure Fund for a grant up to $350,000, and to Northern Development Trust’s cultural infrastructure stream for a grant up to $300,000 were unanimously supported at a regular council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27.

“The Lhtako Dene Park project will be split into two grant applications, each contributing to the other to reduce the contribution expenditure by the city,” said senior community development coordinator Lindsay Blair.

If successful, the grants would build on the $300,000 in work from the allocation of the COVID-19 Restart Grant currently underway at the park, including the installation of a major park entrance sign, a large territory sign with solar lighting flanked by two flag poles bearing Lhtako Dene Nation flags, sculpture installations and repatriating the old mining equipment back to the community of Likely.

The new cultural pieces would be installed in phases from May 2023 to July 2024, and include a large cultural monument and interpretative sign.

Interpretative signage and a pit house structure with a green roof and benches and accessible picnic tables underneath would also be set up. The flower beds would be replaced with native perennial and medicinal plants.

The grant-dependent phase would also include electrical upgrades to increase event hosting capacity.

Blair noted staff’s original report had the city contributing approximately $13,000 toward the project, but said she was able to rejig the grant structure seeking additional funds from Infrastructure Canada.

“I’m relieved to see that this is just a grant application and not a commitment for taxation,” Paull said, questioning if they would be looking at any kind of formal agreement with Lhtako Dene Nation regarding the use of the area, maintenance and operating costs.

Mayor Bob Simpson responded that the project is like any of the city’s other projects where they will build a new amenity.

City manager Byron Johnson said some of the questions asked by Paull were already discussed in staff’s new project form, which provides council with further information and a base look of any future implications for the city when a project is brought forth by staff.

“The fact is what we’re looking at right now is two simple grant applications,” Byron added. “As council knows, we need to come to council to approve applying for grants. In this case, these grant applications are for 100 per cent funding of what we’re trying to do, and I have to give kudos to our grant specialist for going after a grant under Infrastructure Canada’s Natural Infrastructure Fund, which we’ve never applied for grants under before.”

Simpson reminded council of their approval of the waterfront development plan and the Lhtako Dene cultural interpretative plan.

“This is a derivative of both those plans,” he said.

In the staff report, the city’s manager of public works notes at this point, they do not see any increased operational costs, although long-term maintenance costs should be considered for the structures such as benches, signage and pit house.

Read More: Lhtako Dene Park new name of Quesnel park

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