Earlier this month, Northern Development announced the approval of its single largest investment through the Strategic Initiatives Fund: $855,559 for the City of Quesnel for the first stage of its multi-year waterfront development project. After thorough research and public consultation over more than 12 months, the plan was approved in December 2019 and received the 2020 Gold Winner in Excellence in Planning Practice – Small Town and Rural Areas award from The Planning Institute of British Columbia.
“Quesnel City Council is thrilled to have Northern Development once again invest in our community’s transition plan,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. “This particular investment will enable us to accelerate the implementation of our waterfront development strategy, a key component of our plan to position Quesnel as an attractive destination for visitors, residents and investors.”
In its entirety, the Quesnel Waterfront Plan includes conceptual plans and an implementation framework for improvements to areas along the Fraser and Quesnel Rivers. Long-term plans include upgraded trails, river access, Indigenous interpretive elements, celebration of water, public art, an RV park and much more.
The first phase, which received funding through the Strategic Initiatives Fund, has three components that will be completed in the downtown area to increase Quesnel’s marketability as a tourism destination while creating opportunities for economic transformation. The trio of components are renovations to the Fraser footbridge entrance, planning for Indigenous interpretive elements along the waterfront and improved lighting along the Riverfront Trail, the city’s most well-known trail.
“Quesnel is situated in a stunning and diverse natural environment. The Quesnel Waterfront Plan will greatly enhance people’s enjoyment of the area – both for those who live here and those who are visiting our community,” said Mayor Simpson. “As we continue to diversify our economy, the waterfront provides opportunities to grow tourism and increase the attractiveness of living in our city. We will be working with Lhtako Dene and Nazko First Nations to share their rich history in the area and educate people about their traditional practices on the land and rivers. This plan also includes a vision of conservation for existing ecosystems and a celebration of the biodiversity that thrives on the riverbanks and beyond.”
This stage of the Quesnel Waterfront Plan is expected to be completed by October 2021 and has a budget of $1,069,450. It is anticipated the project will increase tourism visitation and increase the length of stay by visitors. Downtown businesses are also expected to benefit from the development as more people spend time in the downtown area.
Funding for this project is through Northern Development’s Strategic Initiatives Fund. Launched in 2018, this versatile funding program allows local government and First Nations to apply for funding for innovative projects that are not eligible for funding through the Trust’s other programs. Projects must be large in scale, strategic in nature and support long term economic transformation and sustainability.