This District of Houston vacant lot at 3448 10th St. could one day be the spot for a Dze L’Kant Friendship Centre affordable housing project and childcare location now that the District is to enter into negotiations for a long-term lease with the centre. Closest to the parking sign is a residence and across the street is Pharmasave. Behind the house is the Sunshine Inn. (District of Houston photo)

Canada Day event cancelled in Houston

Can’t fit in with public health order limiting group sizes

Canada Day event cancelled

Add the cancellation of traditional Canada Day celebrations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the largest annual event hosted by the District of Houston, drawing a crowd of 500 for everything from speeches, a Canada Day birthday cake, entertainment, a free barbecue and children’s activities.

But that anticipated crowd size would contravene a provincial health order limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.

“Unfortunately, the magnitude of an event like Canada Day cannot be modified safely to fit under the current guidelines and [health] order,” noted District of Houston leisure services director Tasha Kelly in recommending council cancel the event.

It is our primary responsibility as a local government to support and maintain community resilience,” she said.

And with that decision, council is also returning a grant from the federal Heritage Department that’s specifically earmarked for Canada Day activities.

The grant this year amounted to $1,800.

Housing project wanted

Houston could be home to an affordable housing project provided the Dze L’Kan Friendship Centre secures financing.

And to help make that a reality, the District of Houston is to negotiate a long-term lease with the society for District-owned land at 3448 10th Street which is on the corner of 10th and Poulton, across the street from the Pharmasave.

The housing project would be accompanied by space for childcare.

The friendship centre’s financing for the housing portion would come from a provincial program aimed at providing indigenous housing while the childcare space would be financed by a separate program.

That provincial program is for a 10-year period providing $550 million for on-reserve and off-reserve indigenous peoples.

Five housing projects have already been approved for the northwest in Kitamaat Village, Terrace, Prince Rupert, at Lax Kw’alaams near Prince Rupert and on Haida Gwaii.

Library receives grant

The District of Houston council has approved this year’s grant for the Houston Public Library.

The amount for this year is $122,000 which is the same amount requested by the library in 2019.

District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck noted that the library did not ask for an increase from 2019 to this year.

“Although not identified in the strategic plan, maintaining the operation of the library supports the ongoing delivery of social services serving the community’s broader needs,” he outlined in a briefing note to council.

The grant will be paid in quarterly instalments.

Business position backed

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako wants to hire a person to work with businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the region to provide information and assistance in coping with the economic and other effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money would come from the Northern Development Initiative Trust and the regional district asked the District of Houston to support its application.

A support letter was then approved by the District of Houston council.

“As we all work through the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to our residents and local businesses, it is evident that a regional business liaison …. will be beneficial to our communities and our region,” regional district economic development coordinator Nellie Davis stated in a letter to the District.

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