Reversing up a river in a kayak is a tough task, but Quesnel city council metaphorically did so at their Tuesday, Feb. 16 meeting.
Council had denied approval on spending $40,000 on a feasibility study into a potential standing wave in the Quesnel river during their Feb. 2 city council meeting. Councillors, while in support of the project, hoped to spend less money to figure out if the project could get off the ground.
Mayor Bob Simpson made a request for council to reconsider, feeling the study was the right way to get the answers to the questions councillors had. His motion passed, approving the study.
Simpson noted there is inherent risk in any feasibility study, adding regulatory bodies will want to know specifics which would come from the study before commenting on any plans.
“It’s probably our riskiest feasibility study,” he said.
Councillors used the two weeks in between the initial decision and reconsideration to do more research.
Mitch Vik said he would support the study, but wanted to be sure the city had researched other man-made standing waves in Canada before moving forward, a thought echoed by other councillors.
City staff said they had already reached out to those municipalities, and still think a feasibility study should be their next step, noting city of Quesnel employees don’t have the time or the know-how to produce a report about a standing wave.
Quesnel city manager Byron Johnson said a standing wave is exactly what the city of Quesnel’s chosen motto, “it’s in our nature,” is about.
“It’s trailblazing, sustainable, fun and will be accessible to the average person to go on the river and use it. To me that’s what this brand is all about,” he said. “For us to say no to it, would be in some ways a rejection of our brand that we’ve made promises about.”
Councillor Martin Runge said he had changed his mind over the past couple weeks, hiking the riverwalk trail and speaking to other councillors.
He said realizing it would be used by whitewater rafters more than surfers helped change his mind, even though he was scared the results of the study would be negative.
“It could be really, really cool for our town, and a destination piece,” Runge said.
Simpson also said the decision was not a straight up budget question, instead it was a question of how council wanted to spend already allocated dollars. Funding for the study would come from money set aside for council initiatives.
“If we’re not spending it on these kinds of things, I think council needs to ask the question of why we’re putting council initiative money aside,” Simpson said. “We’re putting it aside explicitly for these kinds of initiatives.”
Councillor Ron Paull was the only member who voted against the motion. He felt the price tag was too high, and the city should look at getting a grant to fund the study, or use council initiative money for something else.
“Sometimes we just have to be the ones putting the seed money in,” Simpson said in response. “There are times where we’re not grant eligible at this point, where we just have to jump in and prove it out by getting grant money for a shovel ready project.”
Any member of council can request a reconsideration of a decision if they voted in the majority, but it must happen before the next council meeting, with some exceptions. The community charter grants this power to the mayor at the same meeting, or within 30 days.
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