Simpson Reflects on First Two Years as Mayor of Quesnel
Quesnel, B.C. – Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson is pleased with the progress his council has made at the mid-point of their four-year term in office.
“I hope people would see that we’ve made very significant progress as a council. And we’ve addressed a number of the issues that we inherited that was going to cause the city grief on the fiscal side,” he told 250News.
“We restructured the city’s operating budget and actually reduced the overall operating costs by 10 per cent. We addressed an accruing infrastructure deficit and that’s allowing us now to make significant investments in our community.”
He also says the city has created a tax framework that will ensure Quesnel remains fiscally sustainable through 2018.
“Not quite independent of what happens at our mills and our forest sector, but certainly in a much better position to remain a viable, thriving and resilient community if we do get another mill closure.”
What does that tax framework look like?
“We imposed a three-year industrial tax freeze to shift some of the tax burden off industry on to residents,” explains Simpson.
“At the end of that three-year tax freeze our residents will still enjoy one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the province but it will dramatically decrease our vulnerability to more mill closures because we’ll go from a historic high of 72 per cent of our taxing coming from industry down to about 54 per cent.”
He says getting all the so-called heavy lifting out of the way in the first half of their term will now allow council to “reframe” the community during the second half.
Simpson says that includes putting the finishing touches on the city’s rebranding efforts, launching a new “user friendly” city website and pumping money into some new amenities.
“We’re building two brand-new playgrounds in the city in the new year and we’ll be doing a complete refresh of the paving around our visitor centre and museum and around our brand-new arena complex when it does get built,” he says.
“And we’re working with a bunch of community members on some new amenities coming out of our master parks plan.”
Simpson says Quesnel residents will most certainly notice the improvements.
“I think people will feel next year that the community is getting refreshed at its core with the new brand, the new website, new areas that people can enjoy, our parks and recreation facilities and give people the sense that we will absolutely thrive during this economic transition period.”