A better Mr. PG! A trail from the Hart to downtown! Here's what the city would build if it had unlimited funding (or at least $175M)
Instead of talking about what we have to cut let's imagine what we would build if money were no issue
Alright, I caught a bit of the eight-hour budget meeting yesterday (talks resume Wednesday). I missed the public input, which seems to have been short, as well as presentations from the library and TourismPG — but I tuned in just as the city’s capital plan was being presented.
The capital plan is where city council decides what it is going to pay on things. Things mean parks and playgrounds, roads and road replacement, trees and pretty much everything that isn’t operations, ie people/power/etc.
The underlying message of the capital plan presentation is we are running out of money. At various points the city has taken on debt to pay for things and now that debt is coming due and there keep on being more and more costs and funding sources aren’t guaranteed. And while some things are considered essential — like making sure water treatment plants are running and primary roads are working — other things are considered more nice-to-haves.
And this year, city staff put all those nice-to-haves in a chart they called “2023-2027 Capital Plan - Unfunded,” totalling $174,868,000. In the words of finance director Kris Dalio, these are things that we would pay for if we had “a perfect world and everything was funded.” And what a world it would be! A beautiful backdrop for Mr. PG, walking trails everywhere and a sound system that isn’t audibly failing at the CN Centre.
Some of these things are practical but boring, like new floors for aging facilities. Others, though, are a little more transformative and you can imagine a city flush with cash putting in new parks all around town and beautiful washrooms in existing parks. You can read the full list here, but I’ve put some of my favourites below. Remember, these are things the city says it doesn’t have the money for right now but would like to build sometime between 2023 and 2027:
A movable bridge at the Aquatic Centre to divide a larger single activity pool into a multiple activity pool. Cost: $380,000
Enhance and develop the Memorial Park cemetary. Specific projects planned for include a focal point garden and seating area, moving the existing gate from the parking lot area out to Ferry Ave. and replacing it with a new decorative wrought iron version with lights, enhancing landscaping around the sign at the Ferry Ave. entrance, and improvements to the security and surveillance system. Cost: $150,000.
Improving the landscape at the intersection of Hwy 16 and 97, provided a treed backdrop for Mr. PG and adding picnic tables, irrigation, power, and a trail to support public access. This is one of the busiest intersections in northern B.C. and serves as a crossroads between the two major highways. Cost: $400,000.
New off leash areas and fenced dog parks throughout the community such as underutilized ball diamonds. Project work would include signage, waste receptacles, fencing and other site improvements that would be required to support off lease use. Cost: $100,000. note: Both coun. Cori Ramsay and Kyle Sampson suggested they might push for this to be funded.
Plan and develop a city-wide off-street trail connection from the Hart area to the bowl. A safe trail connection from the Hart into the bowl area is critical given the narrow shoulder on Highway 97 along with the fast highway speeds and limited site lines. Cost: $2,000,000.
Construct a new public washroom for Rainbow Park. Currently there are two outhouses available for public use. Cost: $500,000.
Replace the Rotary Playground at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. The playground replacement would include the removal of existing equipment and replacement with new accessible playground equipment and surfacing materials, folliwing age-friendly universal design standards. The 17-year-old Royary playground does not meet current standards. Cost: $1,500,000.
Purchase and install a prefabricated concrete flush washroom at Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick Bravery Park. Cost: $300,000.
Refurbish Carrie Jane Park and bring it up to Athletic park standards, including ball diamond refurbishment, remove and replace the hard surface (basketball, tennis, pickleball) courts in th enorth end and overall pedestrian lighting and tree planting. Cost: $4,700,000.
Construct one underdeveloped park each year to serve area residents. In 2021, the development of Fraser River Benchlands Park was completed. Future years would include growth priority areas such as Chancellor Park in the University Heights and Glen Lyon Park in upper College Heights. Each neighbourhood park would require base construction with the development of a playground, trails, lawns, tree and other site ameneties. Cost: $2,000,000.
Purchase an all-aluminum mobile staging system with full hydraulics in order to enhance outdoor festivals in Prince George and support community celebrations, such as large-scale sporting events. Currently, the city is spending up to $20,000 per year on stage rentals for outdoor events. Cost: $211,000. Note: Coun. Tim Bennett suggested we might want to fund this as an investment at attracting future money-making events.
Install 100 additional tiered specator seats at the gymnastics club. Upgrade stair exits. Cost: $150,000.
Replace six family change room doors and one set of double doors in the pool storage room at the Aquatic Centre, and repair eight rusted column bases. Cost: $143,000.
Renew and replace the CN Centre audio sstem that has exceed its techincal and reliable service lifespan. Cost: $1,175,000.
Implement two safety improvements to the Tyner Blvd. - University Heights Dr. intersection through the design and construction of a combination of left turn and right turn movement strategies. Cost: $1,180,000.
Develop new bus pullouts along arterial roadways. Cost: $800,000.
Develop a new downtown transit exchange behind the Wood Innovation Building alongside the newly developed Wood Innovation Square. Cost: $500,000.
Provide street lights on the roadways in the Crescent neighbourhood. Cost: $796,000.
Improve the access road and parking areas for Pidherny, addressing concerns raised around health and safety issues from multiple user groups. Cost: $636,000.
There are also a few items on the FUTURE capital projects plan, which starts in 2028 I thought you might find interesting… but five years is a long time from now and we’ll see if they are still on the list when the time comes:
Plant new and replacement trees in parks, boulevards, medians and in the downtown core to support a healthy urban forest. Priority areas includes parks and playgrounds in need of shade trees, bouleavrds with limited tree canpoies and downtown improvement projects. Cost: $250,000.
Plan and construct the Lower Patricia Greenway trail system to provide a connection from the downtown core to riverfront parks and trails. The greenway would follow the Patricia escaprment and connect the downtown to the Heritage River Trail on the Fraser River. Cost: $904,000.
Extend Foothills Blvd. from 18th to Ferry, including installation of storm sewer. Cost: $20,000,000.
Cimo closes…. for now
One of the more established restaurants in the city, Cimo Mediterranean Grill announced on its Facebook and Instagram pages yesterday it is closing indefinitely:
It has been a long road, and a tough decision has been made to temporarily close down Cimo Mediterranean Grill on January 31, 2023. This is due to continued lingering effects of Covid-19, as well as staffing shortages.
We are looking forward to re-opening in the future to serve you the best Mediterranean food in town; stay tuned to our Facebook page for any information in the future.
Cimo is one of those restaurants that feels like it’s kind of faded from the public conversation. In the late 2000s/early 2010s it was one of the go-to spots for local dining but seems to have been supplanted by the arrival of brick pizza ovens and locally-made beers and wines. It was still a patio mainstay for the downtown lunch crowd and has plenty of good reviews but I guess it hasn’t been able to make it work.
If this indeed because of COVID-19 it also makes it one of the only — if not the only? — restaurants in town to shut down because of pandemic restrictions, months after all of them have lifted.
Through this I also learned that the owner (or president) of Cimo also runs the Treasure Cove Casino here in town, he Chances casino/grill/convention centre in Prince Rupert and is a partner at Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers.
Anyways, we’ll see if this is indeed temporary or a permanent loss.
A winter storm warning is in place with up to 40 cm of snow expected by tomorrow afternoon.
The YMCA Lac Des Bois Care and Learning Centre and Elizabeth Fry Family Centre will be offering $10 a day care next month, with 126 spots available.
A report in the Tyee showcases a family who believes poor care at the Simon Fraser Lodge led to their mother’s death.
A warning about the vulnerability of our drinking water sources to contaminants.
The Northwest Invasive Plant Council says the city is allowing invasive weeds to grow on public land.
A 74-year-old who was trying to direct traffic near Quesnel after a vehicle incident was hit and killed while doing so.
MLA Mike Morris is raising concerns about staffing at the Mackenzie hospital. People in Mackenzie have some of the furthest distances to travel to get to another hospital if they can’t receive care in the community.
A new helicopter is helping provide ambulance service to northern B.C.
Local TikTok stars and international award winners Nova Voce will be performing Broadway tunes at the new Knox Performance Space next Saturday (Feb. 11).
Northern FanCon has been shortlisted for the Remarkable Experience Award for the 2023 BC Tourism and Hospitality Awards.
A Canfor VP talks to CBC about the company’s plans for northern B.C. in the wake of mill closure announcements.
A former employee of the B.C. Forest Service says its time to scrap the existing forest industry altogether.
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