More tourists could be stopping to take a look at the community’s large fishing rod thanks to a grant the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce is getting to boost the tourism industry. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

More tourists could be stopping to take a look at the community’s large fishing rod thanks to a grant the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce is getting to boost the tourism industry. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

Chamber receives money for tourism plan

Program to help communities affected by forestry slowdown

The Houston and District Chamber of Commerce is getting $10,000 to point out gaps in the area’s tourism industry.

And the money will then help provide a guide for tourism investment and what might need to be done to provide infrastructure to attract tourists.

Houston is one of 13 entities in the north to receive money to develop and promote tourism from a provincial program set up two years ago to aid places where mill closures or other cuts in forest products actvity brought on social and economic impacts.

The money comes from the provincial government and is being funneled to the receiving communities by the Northern B.C. Tourism Association.

“Communities throughout northern BC have felt the impacts of mill closures and curtailments, this funding is a key part of rebuilding resilience in those communities,” said Clint Fraser, chief executive officer of the tourism association.

“We are very pleased to be distributing funds to the communities most affected, knowing the new jobs and opportunities created will benefit residents and visitors alike.”

Provincial tourism minister Melanie Mark said it was important to assist communities affected by any impacts of a reduced forest industry.

“We are working with the [tourism] industry to help business survive the pandemic and create new opportunities throughout the province so we’re stronger than ever when it is safe to welcome visitors again,” she said.

There’s no immediate word yet on how the chamber will spend the money.

Houston, along with many B.C. communities, went through a series of temporary closures beginning in late 2018 when forestry companies responded to fibre cost pressures and American tariffs by reducing activity.

And that lead to a number of provincial assistance measures, including incentives for workers to retire or to find other employment and for communities to diversify.

In all, the Northern B.C. Tourism Association received $200,000 to parcel out to northern communities.

“Our organization will support these communities with their tourism plans, however it is up to the communities to engage a consultant or firm and work directly with them on the tourism plans. We will lend help or expertise wherever needed,” said Amber Harding, another association official.

As it is, Houston has been positioning itself as an outdoor recreatioin centre, concentrating, for example, on mountain biking and cross country skiing.

The Dungate Community Forest has also been pressing the provincial government to allow it to expand its area of operations with one of the goals being to add to out door recreational amenties.

Also receiving money is Fort St. James, the Murray Ridge Ski Hill which is near Fort St. James, Tourism Fort St. John, the Tse’k’wa Heritage Society in Fort St. John, the District of Mackenzie, the Mackenzie Outdoor Route and Trail Association, the Pine Valley Exhibition Society in Chetwynd, the District of Fraser Lake, the Stellat’an First Nation near Fraser Lake, the District of Taylor and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality in Fort Nelson.