After attending the information meeting regarding the multi-centre project last Tuesday, I came away unsure whether I should be chagrined or bemused.
Unfortunately, elation was not one of my choices.
The ‘information’ was a re-hash of old news save for the thinly veiled hint that this project is dead in the water.
Good news indeed for those who are loathe to see this project happen but very disappointing to the many passionate supporters of the performing arts and ice sports.
My involvement started in 2002 when consultants hired by the city informed us that the existing arena had very little life left and it would need to be replaced in the near future.
In a discussion with the mayor of the day, I quickly realized that a new arena was of little interest to him.
Here we are, nine years later and the present mayor and council appear to have absolutely no appetite for this project.
Here are some facts that support my suspicions:
• March 9, 2009 (a mere three months after the referendum passed) councillor Paull presented a motion to council that the multi-centre project be removed from the council’s priority list.
At the March 30, 2009 council meeting, this councillor artfully declared that the proposed multi-centre is a regional priority.
• April 6, 2009 the city manager explained to council that no applications for funding for other projects be made lest they jeopardize funding for land slippage.
• April 20, 2009, council passed a motion making flood protection their number two priority.
• October 7, 2009, council was informed by staff that applications for grant monies for a new museum had been processed.
• At the UBCM in early October 2009, council members met with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond to discuss West Quesnel Land Stability and a Highway 97 North-South Connector.
Undoubtedly you, madam mayor and your councillors will yowl with righteous indignation that land slippage, flood protection, a museum and a bypass are very important issues, which they are to varying degrees, but why pretend that a multi-centre is foremost on your minds given your obvious lack of enthusiasm for such an undertaking?
The foot-dragging that has gone on since November 2008 has become unpalatable.
If you collectively have no intention of vigorously pursuing funding from senior governments and big business, then tell your constituents that in plain language.
Your true agenda would be better received than the pap that you are currently feeding the community.
If mayor and council don’t have the multi-centre as a priority of any ranking how could the project ever come to fruition as a regional project when city council is one of the two parties that make up the Joint Planning Committee?
The CRD on the other hand, made a declaration (albeit carefully worded) that a multi-centre is their number one priority.
By the way, we have frittered away golden opportunities in the past few years to avail ourselves of federal and provincial largesse and now can accurately say “we are really trying hard but there’s no money to be had out there”.
Also, the fact that Prince George will host the 2015 Canada Winter Games means that we can be assured that any federal or provincial money that may become available up to 2015 will most definitely end up being spent on sports facilities in that community.