Voting day is Saturday for renovation of the Quesnel swimming pool and recreation centre.
General Voting Day is June 10 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The locations to vote are at Barlow Creek School (816 Barkerville Highway), Bouchie Lake School (2074 Blackwater Road), École Red Bluff Lhtako Elementary (1533 Maple Drive) and Quesnel City Hall (410 Kinchant Street).
According to Cariboo Regional District (CRD) officials, voter turnout has already been strong in the advance poles.
“(June 5) we had 527 people come out to vote, pushing us to well over the halfway mark for turn out last time,” said CRD spokesperson Gerald Pinchbeck. “Comparatively, 403 people voted at the second advance voting opportunity in the 2021 referendum. The last chance to vote this Saturday will see a blitz of locations where voters can make their opinion count.”
The gist of the issue emerged during a series of informational open houses prior to voting. The question before voters is yes or no to spending $35-million in one concerted, large renovation project to fix the natural aging process and code upgrades to the pool and rec centre, plus add features the community asked for through a previous consultation process, versus smaller and less certain renovation projects spread out over time that can unpredictably grow in cost and scope and not provide the added features asked for by local residents.
Some said they don’t want their taxes to increase. Others counter that a poor pool facility leads to higher taxes anyway, because of population loss that feeds the local economic purse, and the piecemeal renovations that will be inevitaly needed as fixes have to be done at higher costs in the future.
Some said that doing the renovations now in one big project would close the facility for too long. The retort was that it will be closed for that length of time regardless, maybe longer in sum total, with less return on investment and none of the things people wanted added like the water slide.
“There are a lot of opinions that have been expressed to us, for and against, but the only opinions that count are the ones left in a ballot box at the end of the day,” Pinchbeck said.
The CRD outlined the referendum question in this way:
The swimming pool at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Quesnel is over 40 years old and needs to be upgraded to better meet the needs of the community and to attract new investment, potential workers, and residents.
The CRD and City of Quesnel are proposing key upgrades for the swimming pool and are seeking authorization to borrow up to $35-million to finance the revitalization of this recreation amenity.
What is the issue?
The Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre (ARC) is more than a building in our community; it has been the core recreation and gathering space of our community for the last 40 years (1983).
The swimming pool at the ARC lacks certain amenities to reflect our growing and diverse population. A multi-million-dollar investment to make these improvements is required to ensure the facility meets the community’s current and future needs while extending its serviceable life.
Completing all the upgrades simultaneously reduces the financial cost of the upgrades and minimizes the service disruption and impact on facility users caused by construction.
Delaying a swimming pool renovation will only escalate the project costs due to inflation. Funding projects this size requires long-term borrowing, which is approved by the electors (you!). Additional funding opportunities are being explored, including grants and partnerships.
The estimated capital cost for the project is $35-million, which accounts for design and construction costs along with a contingency allowance. The estimated net operating costs for the centre would increase by approximately $300,000 per year if the upgrade goes ahead. Ongoing operational costs will be included in the arts and recreation centre budget.
To pay for the construction and operating costs of the project, residents within the boundaries of the sub-regional recreation taxation area would see a tax rate increase of about $75 per $100,000 on the assessed value of land and improvements. This would make the total tax rate $190 per $100,000 assessed value based on 2023 assessments, all things being equal. For example, if your home and property were valued at $300,000, you would see a tax increase of about $225 per year, for a total taxation of $570 for sub-regional recreation.
What do I need when I get to the polling station?
If you are a resident: You will need to provide two pieces of identification, which together prove your name, residential address, and contains your signature. You may sign a solemn declaration if you are missing one piece of I.D. Valid identification includes a drivers licence, BC services card, utility bill, status card, property tax notice, I.C.B.C. bill/insurance, a credit card, social insurance card, or other form of I.D. accepted by the Chief Elections Officer.
If you are a non-resident property owner: You will also need to provide proof that you personally own the property you are voting on.
This can be in the form of a Land Titles Certificate, property tax notice, or other proof of ownership document.