In 2016, City of Quesnel received a $60,000 grant from Northern Development through the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program towards this $350,625 project. This has been a funding partnership of Northern Development, City of Quesnel, and Province of British Columbia
The opening of Quesnel’s Spirit Centre in September 2017 has made downtown Quesnel more appealing while enabling people to spend more time strolling the streets and visiting the shops.
“Opening the Spirit Centre, adjacent to Spirit Square in downtown Quesnel, is one piece of our strategy to make Quesnel a destination,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. “Travelers along Highway 97 are stopping to use the accessible public washrooms and spending more time in our downtown. Utilizing the space as an office for our bylaw department, helps to keep our downtown a safe and inviting space to be, while the centralized meeting space for non-profit groups provides another reason for people to come downtown.”
The benefits of the new, friendly and accessible space in downtown Quesnel can already be felt in the area. Formerly vacant store fronts are now filled with tenants and more people can be seen leisurely walking around, browsing stores and building relationships. Festivals are benefiting from increased publicity and the overall spirit of downtown Quesnel is high.
Prior to 2017, the former K-max Games and Videos store location sat empty for a few years after K-max relocated to another storefront on Reid Street. With creative thinking and funding from Northern Development, the Province of B.C. and the City of Quesnel, the space is now serving residents, non-profits and businesses by providing office space, accessible public washrooms, free meeting space for non-profit organizations, satellite offices for Barkerville Historic Town and Park and the offices of the Quesnel Downtown Association and the City of Quesnel’s bylaw office.
“Recently there have been several new businesses open up, with a few more due to open in the next few months,” said Erica Lahoda, marketer for Quesnel Downtown Association. “It’s our hope the revitalization will help attract more business downtown.”
Opening the Spirit Centre is a strategic move to help Quesnel diversify their economy as they are in a stage of forced transition following the effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Quesnel is one of B.C.’s most forestry-dependent communities, and one of the hardest hit by the mountain pine beetle. While the City of Quesnel works to strengthen the transitioning forest sector through other initiatives, projects such as Spirit Centre work towards the growth of tourism in the community as part of a multi-faceted destination development strategy.
Visit Spirit Centre and Spirit Square, which are adjacent to each other, at the corner of Reid Street and St. Laurent Avenue.
Northern Development provided $60,000 for the $350,625 project. Other funding came from the Province of B.C.’s Rural Dividend Fund and the City of Quesnel.