A Kayaker didn’t let the fact it’s January prevent him from hitting the Fraser River on Jan. 23. (Karen Powell Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

A Kayaker didn’t let the fact it’s January prevent him from hitting the Fraser River on Jan. 23. (Karen Powell Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Quesnel council hits pause on whitewater plans

City council postponed allocating $70,000 to Quesnel River projects

Two projects from Quesnel’s waterfront plan were not given funding during the Tuesday, Feb. 2 city council meeting.

Councillors denied giving $40,000 to a standing wave feasibility study, and $30,000 toward improving access to the Quesnel Canyon.

Both projects are still in the cards, but council wants more information before putting money towards either one.

Quesnel Canyon access was put on hold so the city can co-ordinate with the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) on the project.

“The current road is called the blue road, and it’s in quite poor condition,” The city’s manager of Economic Development & Tourism Amy Reid said. “The access point is also in poor condition and there was also previously a take-out point and that has been washed out.”

Reid added she had already had an initial conversation with CRD recreation and trails staff.

The standing wave received stronger push back. Some councillors wanted assurances from government agencies the wave could be installed before moving forward with a $40,000 feasibility study.

Mayor Bob Simpson said a feasibility study would provide answers to the inevitable questions those approving bodies would ask Quesnel when city staff approached them.

“You’re talking chicken and egg here,” he said. “For them to be able to comment beyond, ‘not in our lifetime,’ we need to be able to do some of the work so they understand what we’re asking.”

Councillor Mitch Vik he wasn’t against the project, but didn’t want to end up wasting money.

“It seems [a standing wave] is on the knife’s edge of possibility, and there’s got to be a way to not spend $40,000 to see if that’s the case,” he said.

Simpson said he didn’t want Quesnel to fall behind neighbouring cities in developing river recreation options.

“The whitewater community in Williams Lake is growing rapidly, as well as across the province,” he said. “As we look at the trails initiative, we were a bit laggard… I’m giving you a heads up, water is on that same train.”

READ MORE: Quesnel receives over $850,000 in riverfront funding

Councillor Scott Elliott noted a standing wave would go perfectly with other city plans, including a municipal campground.

“Having that standing wave close by is gonna be another economic driver for the city,” he said. “It’s happened in other locations in the province, so it’s not a non-starter, but dealing with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for any of these kinds of things is tricky.”

City staff said they could put together a lower cost estimate on what they called a “pre-feasibility” study to try and find out if a project like a standing wave could receive approval, and council lept at the idea.

“There has to be enough conceptual work people understand what we’re talking about it,” Quesnel city manager Byron Johnson said. “I don’t even know what that amount would be.”

Councillor Martin Runge noted the updated inter-connector project also might change their initial plans.

City staff said they expect they’ll be able to share an update from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on the highway project soon.

READ MORE: Quesnel waterfront plan nets Planning Institute of B.C. award

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


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