Does Prince George not have enough parks?
And how big is Prince George going to get? The mayor wants a plan
I woke up yesterday to discover our water pipes had frozen. After the hairdryer did nothing, I called the city to find out if it was something on their end — and it turned out it was, as an exterior pipe buried in our front lawn had apparently stopped flowing. Fortunately, they worked quick and I was able to shower by noon — in other words, I’m grateful to city crews out there keeping things flowing. And do they ever have their work cut out for them as there’s a major watermain break downtown. Stay warm!
Also: Godspeed to everyone I saw posting about their flights home being delayed, redirected or altogether cancelled.
And speaking of cold weather, Environment Canada has a new weather radar in town to give us improved forecasting (like the possibility of a winter storm at the end of the week).
And here’s an upside to cold weather, courtesy councillor Brian Skakun:
Will Prince George be a buyers market in 2023? Not bloody likely, say real estate watchers.
In a pair of year-end interviews with CBC and MyPGNow, RCMP Supt. Shaun Wright says, again, police need more funding (again, though, I will note that it would be more surprising to hear a top cop suggest they don’t need more money).
I keep thinking that it would be smart to track where various chefs wind up in the city, so here’s an article about the new head chef at CNC (send me chef gossip!).
I’ll admit it took me longer than I wanted to figure out this is, indeed, a joke.
Does Prince George not have enough parks?
Survey respondents were happy with pretty much everything except our parks and trails
Later today the city’s intergovernmental and finance committees are going to meet. I’m not going to write about everything in each agenda today but I do want to draw your attention to the community engagement citizen budget survey results being presented at finance. This is where the city posts ads and social media posts getting people to rate their satisfcation levels with various services and saying whether they would be willing to pay more, less or the same for them in the year ahead.
These sorts of things are always self-selecting and it does mean certain groups can dominate the results if a concentrated campaign comes out encouraging people to vote a certain way but it’s still interesting to see. And this year, with 429 surveys filled out it seems people are happy with pretty much everything… except parks and trails.
On roads, police, snow clearing, etc, the dominant answer is the service is “good enough” and the preferred funding level is “keep the same” as it is now. But on parks and trails the dominant answers are “not enough” and “let’s pay more”. Here’s a sample:
There’s also an interest in more arts and culture events, apparently:
But overall people are pretty satisfied with where things are currently. You can read the whole survey here.
Putting off the mega park decision until 2023
Last night’s mega park discussion at city council didn’t really go anywhere. After hearing the report, mayor Simon Yu asked if it would be OK to defer any decision-making on whether to build the park or not until 2023, after the new council had a better handle on the budget and the answer was yes and so… that’s what’s happening.
You could, however, hear some councillors setting the community of supporters behind this project up for the possibility that despite their advocacy and fundraising, this isn’t a done deal. While their enthusiasm was appreciated, they said, it’s important to understand that building the park — which is what the fundraising is for — is just part of the cost, whereas it’s the city that would be on the hook for actually maintaining it to the tune of $1.3M annually which, it turns out, would mean basically a 1 per cent tax increase overall. It’s one thing to raise a million bucks once, it’s another thing altogether to raise it year after year. Anyways, it will come back to the table sometime in the second quarter of 2023.
How big is Prince George going to get? The mayor wants a plan
Also last night, council heard about plans for consultation on the Official Community Plan review set for 2023, and the downtown redevelopment plan set for 2023. Both of these are high-level, vision-board type things — what do we value as a community, what do we see as the future — that ultimately do inform policy, such as whether to allow greenspace to be torn down for a highrise or if a single-family home in a certain neighbourhood can be replaced by a four-level senior’s complex. But right now all I’m going to note is that during both of these discussions, mayor Simon Yu asked whether Prince George’s projected future population would be factored into the planning process, and what that population would be.
I’ve heard Yu make these sorts of comments before. In campaign interviews he brought up several times the fact that the city was actually designed to accomodate about double our current population based on the rapid growth of the 50s and 60s but then leveled right out for the last several decades — a fact built right into the city’s infrastructure information page.
I think it’s fair to say that Yu has ambitions of putting Prince George back on that fast-growth track, suggesting that Prince George will be a global city in the future and, in one interview, suggesting people should get prepared to see more traffic.
What will be interesting is how ambitious his growth plan is, and how that informs the decision making in the year ahead: Planning on how to sustain a city of roughly 80,000 is a lot different than planning on how to prepare a city you believe will experience an influx of tens of thousands of new people in the years ahead.
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