Ministry of Transportation holds open house on proposed highway bypass around Quesnel

Quesnel Downtown Association: bypass is ‘best possible design to accommodate downtown core’

Quesnel Downtown Association president Mitch Vik. File photo

The tremendous snow storm that hammered Quesnel on Feb. 7 definitely threw a wet blanket on the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) open house at the Quesnel & District Seniors’ Centre.

The roads were treacherous as snow removal equipment couldn’t keep up with Old Man Winter.

Sidewalks were also dicey. Parking lots had close a foot-and-a-half of snow on them.

All of this and warnings about not going out resulted in about 50 people showing up for the one-on-one meeting with MOTI representatives.

Fortunately, MOTI reps had meetings with various community leaders earlier in the day before the snow storm really got going.

The executive and directors of the Quesnel Downtown Association (QDA) were among those who heard the MOTI presentation on the Highway 97 Safety Improvement in the City of Quesnel project.

QDA president Mitch Vik was very impressed with what he saw and heard.

“In the terms of the QDA’s position, we support this project wholeheartedly. We feel times are certainly different than they were a generation ago [when there was significant opposition] to a bypass.

“This interconnector is a great solution. It keeps the downtown core very close by and there’s excellent access from the north and south to downtown.

“We feel this was the best possible design to accommodate in the downtown core.”

Vik says the interconnector, which will flow by the city, will stop the transport trucks from going through the city core and that will provide safety and better air quality.

“We have to move forward in some [significant way] and this plan does that. Yes, we’re totally on board.”

When Front Street is devolved from Ministry of Transportation, Vik notes it will become a municipal responsibility.

“By us inheriting Front Street, it will give the City so much more autonomy in the design of that road, traffic flow and projects that may end up on that road,” he adds.

“There’s talk about waterfront development in the future and talk about giving restaurants more [viewscape] on Front Street if this was to happen.

“It would be a game changer for a pedestrian-friendly area, which is, frankly, why a lot of downtown cores that want to survive are embracing those concepts.”

The QDA president says you can’t always think about the cars first. People want to have an experience when they come downtown, and this will help with that.

“The QDA will be supporting this with a letter-writing campaign, or whatever is required of us.”

Vik says the QDA executive had a quick huddle after the MOTI presentation and the consensus was that this is good for the community.

“It’s good for downtown Quesnel and it’s a vehicle to move our community forward again, and keep it moving forward.

“We need this new infrastructure; we needed a new rink and we got that; we need a new arts centre and that’s in process.

“This continues that investment in Quesnel and we need it and we support it.

“We are not going to be standing in its way.”

Vik encourages all residents who were not able to attend the open house to go online at www.gov.bc.ca/quesneltransportationstudy and look at the options and provide their feedback by the Feb. 21, 2018 deadline.

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