Council applies for water treatment grant

Houston council is applying for a grant and will hold a referendum if they get 70% of the $4.3 million for a Houston water treatment plant.

Houston council is changing their funding application for a Houston water treatment plant, saying that they will hold a referendum if they get 70 per cent of the requested $4.3 million for the project.

In May 2012, the District applied to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) under the Gas Tax General Strategies Priorities Fund for 100 per cent funding for a new water treatment facility.

But at the Sept. 24 to 28 UBCM convention, District staff talked to provincial ministers and got the impression that a request for 100 per cent funding would fail – they need to show some community commitment.

“We have a better chance of getting funding if we go in at a lower amount than 100 per cent,” said Councillor Michalle Jolly at the Oct. 16 town council meeting.

“We’re just trying to sweeten the pot right now,” she said.

Last year, on April 2, 2011, the District held a referendum and asked Houston residents if they wanted to borrow $4.3 million for a water treatment plant in Houston, but 85 per cent voted no.

Since then council has applied for funding for a water treatment plant, but the manganese in the water, though high, is not above safety levels, so the water is still considered drinkable, said Councillor Shane Brienen.

Because it’s an aesethetic issue and not safety, nearly all the councillors agreed that they were not likely to get 100 per cent of the funding.

If they can get 70 per cent from UBCM, they would only have to borrow roughly $1 million, instead of $4 million, said District CAO Poznikoff.

The decision about the grant funding will be made at the end of November, and CAO Poznikoff says they will have another referendum if they have to borrow any money towards the project.