There was a packed Quesnel city council agenda during the meeting on April 20. Councillors heard two presentations, received seven staff reports, heard from committees and voted on multiple bylaws during the meeting.
The city received a clean financial audit from Corey Naphtali of KPMG.
“That’s what you want to hear,” he said, describing his report.
The city has an accumulated surplus of over $100 million, but mostly in tangible assets like buildings. The city has $16.4 million in statutory reserves and $4 million in operating reserves.
Big projects not included in the city’s five-year capital plan include refurbishing the Johnston bridge.
The city heard back from the Financial Sustainability and Audit Committee on exploring ways to support non-profits in Quesnel. Council had asked the committee to try to find ways the city can more directly support non-profits last month after a funding request from Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“The City’s Business Support Team has already reached out to about 45 of the NFP and one possibility discussed was hosting a grant writing workshop with Community Futures,” Coun. Scott Elliott said. “Many NFP do not have the capacity or knowledge of how to obtain grant funding.”
Other ideas include a “Donate Local” program and creating a grant program through the Quesnel Community Foundation funded by the city.
The city is also planning to bring forward a motion to either the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) or North Central Local Government Association to establish programs and policies across the province and region.
Quesnel will soon be home to a pride-themed crosswalk.
The crosswalk will be installed at the intersection of St. Laurent Avenue and Reid Street, near the newly refurbished Spirit Square.
The initial $3,000 installation cost will be covered by RBC, with the city picking up annual maintenance through their street painting contract. Quesnel Pride had hoped to install a mural, but received funding for the crosswalk.
“We will maintain (the crosswalk) to a very high standard,” Quesnel city manager Byron Johnson said. “It’s the first time it’s been there, it’s highly visible. If there is vandalism, the city crews will do our best to maintain it.”
The crosswalk won’t be the only feature set to be installed in the area.
“The proposed high-profile location may offer similar opportunities for our Indigenous partners to create culturally significant designs at other points of that intersection,” the Executive Committee report reads. “Executive will continue to explore these opportunities and report back to Council.”
The crosswalk will hopefully be installed in May, in time for pride month in June.
NAZKO PROJECT CANCELLED
A proposed housing project which would convert the properties around the River Rock Pub was cancelled.
The city had given two readings to a bylaw which would have re-zoned the area to allow for higher density housing. The project also would have converted the pub into a shared office and kitchen space for residents.
“Although it is still in the queue for possible further funding in the future it has been decided by Chief and Council we can’t meet the timelines set out in our initial planning with the City of Quesnel,” Nazko Band administrator Bill Roach said in a letter. “On behalf of the Chief and Council I would like to thank everyone in their hard work, effort and time spent on this project.”
A planned public hearing on Wednesday, April 7 was cancelled.
Mr Mikes will be the next Quesnel restaurant to start up a patio.
Provincial health regulations established in late March prevent any restaurants from hosting diners indoors. During the city council meeting on April 6, Begbie’s requested an extension of the area where patio dining is allowed in Quesnel.
Mr Mikes patio would include taking over a parking spot outside their Reid Street entrance. City staff will work with the owners to ensure the patio fits in.
Planning Technician Lyndon Hunter presented a report to council, noting the need to appoint a new member to the board of variance.
The three-person tribunal approves small changes to zoning rules, including setback and height allowances. Two people wish to continue, but a new person needs to be appointed. Board members must be appointed for three years.
Since the last change in the makeup of the board in 2014, they have heard 18 applications.
LETTER TO SUPPORT PENTICTON
Councillors unanimously agreed to support sending a letter to the provincial government speaking out against their actions in Penticton.
According to a letter from Penticton city council, the provincial government established a temporary winter shelter, which has become a permanent structure against their wishes, and against city bylaws.
“I think this is a mess, and I think the provincial government is creating an even bigger mess,” Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson said. “I personally feel for the city of Penticton, and the mayor, and the situation they’ve been put in.”
City of Quesnel coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, who sits on the UBCM board, noted that board had just received the letter, and hadn’t had a chance to discuss it yet.
“In this letter we need to make sure it’s specifically about the land-use autonomy piece,” she said. “We don’t want people to be confused about the type of housing.”
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