Giant gold pan relocation causing controversy in Quesnel
City says new location will be better for tourism, despite petitions from someone who wants pan to stay put
When visitors drive south into Quesnel, B.C., on Highway 97, they're welcomed by a giant gold pan — possibly the world's largest. It measures 5.5 metres in diameter, and it's been in that same spot since 1987.
Plans to relocate the gold pan from its current spot to the train station, across the road from the visitor centre and local museum, has residents concerned.
"We want our gold pan to stay where it is," said Debra McKelvie.
"We don't want it to be moved down to the rail yard. We feel that where it is, is fine. We don't want to see [city] money being used in that way."
McKelvie, who has lived in Quesnel for 45 years, said the gold pan is a piece of local history, and for that reason, it shouldn't be moved.
McKelvie started an online petition, with more than 500 signatures, and submitted a paper petition with 600 signatures to mayor and council, asking the City to reconsider relocating the gold pan.
"The only way that things get change is if people step up and ask for change if they're not happy with what's happening," McKelvie said.
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, however, believes the move is for the best.
"Its current location doesn't offer anything for visitors to do, other than stop and get a picture, which is not easy to do," Simpson said in an email to CBC.
The new location will have interpretive signage and an electronic kiosk that will promote the city and events. The new spot is also ideal, Simpson said, because it's right beside where Rocky Mountaineer passengers disembark. About 250 people arrive by train twice a week, he estimates.
Simpson said that will bring more tourists to the downtown core, which is part of the City's employment strategy as jobs in the forest industry continue to be lost.
"We've explained this to Ms. McKelvie and her 'supporters' to no avail," Simpson said.
"Some people are just averse to change."
But McKelvie believes that the gold pan should remain at the entrance to the city.
"I think that change just for the sake of change is not always a good thing. And I think that gold pan represents our history and our past, and its location is perfect."
With files from Nicole Oud