Before the meeting, committee members got a chance to tour the facilities at the Quesnel and District Recreation Centre. They even packed into the tiny machine room (masked up) to get a closer look at some of the areas that need renovation. (Cassidy Observer Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Before the meeting, committee members got a chance to tour the facilities at the Quesnel and District Recreation Centre. They even packed into the tiny machine room (masked up) to get a closer look at some of the areas that need renovation. (Cassidy Observer Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

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

The North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee decided a referendum was the best way to fund the project

Voters in the North Cariboo recreation area will once again be voting on proposed renovations to the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre.

When the referendum will take place, and what the scope of the project will be is far from decided though.

Cariboo Regional District (CRD) director John Massier managed to bridge the divide between factions at the North Cariboo Joint Committee meeting on Dec. 14, which was held at the centre.

The meeting lasted for over two hours, spent mostly discussing the pool situation.

Some on the committee favoured an October 2023 referendum and others wanted an October 2022 date.

Those favouring the 2023 date wanted more time to hear from staff and constituents.

The members wanting a 2022 date said timing the referendum with municipal elections would ensure high turnout, and construction costs could further increase if the referendum was held later.

READ MORE: North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee divided on 2nd Quesnel pool referendum

The option to vastly raise taxes in the short term to partially fund the project was strongly shot down.

City councillor Mitch Vik said no matter the scope of the project, it’s fairer for future taxpayers who will eventually move to the Quesnel area to help fund the project, rather than just current taxpayers footing the bill for the amenity.

The committee has been divided on the future of the pool renovation after the original referendum to borrow $20 million to renovate the pool was held in June of 2021 and voted down.

READ MORE: North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee divided on 2nd Quesnel pool referendum

If the exact same project scope is brought back to the public, it would now cost over $24 million due to rising construction costs.

Resolutions proposing referendums in October of 2022 and 2023 were both voted down, despite the votes for the 2022 date sitting at eight committee members in favour, and three opposed.

Directors Mary Sjostrom, Barb Bachmeier and Jim Glassford voted against going to referendum in 2022, and a majority of both CRD directors and city councillors must vote in favour for a resolution to pass the North Cariboo Joint Committee.

“This is supposed to be a partnership, and often it doesn’t feel like a partnership around here,” Sjostrom said before the vote on the 2022 date.

“I’m sorry for that because it certainly works better if it is.”

After months of conversation on the same topics related to the pool, frustration was apparent from everyone around the room at times throughout the meeting.

“How much longer do you want to delay it?” Councillor Scott Elliott asked after the 2022 resolution was defeated.

“There is a wedge in this group. Eight voted in favour of this and three voted against, so it doesn’t move anywhere.”

READ MORE: “Back to the drawing board” — CRD Director disappointed in Quesnel pool referendum turnout

Massier’s suggestion of an April date appeared to be headed for the same fate as other resolutions, but after he proposed changing the wording of the resolution to say the committee approves holding an election “by” April of 2023, not in April of 2023.

The wording change means the committee will be able to approve an October 2022 referendum if they agree.

Massier’s resolution would pass, with only Glassford voting against. Glassford said he would vote against any referendum unless a different project scope is included in the resolution setting the referendum.

“We need to do a lot more work between now and then to agree on the scope of the plan and bring that forward to get the idea together of what we’re going to bring to the electorate for referendum,” Massier said after the meeting.

Massier added it was nice to finally find some consensus, as the discussion on the pool has appeared to go nowhere over multiple meetings.

“Any project that we go for, we all know it’s not going to be a $2 million project,” he said.

“This thing’s going to be a significant cost no matter if we go with the larger plan or the smaller plan. It’s going to be enough we’re going to need to go to the taxpayer and get their assent.”

A long strategy session is planned for January for the committee to work out more details on the project.

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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