Houston council continues to lobby Northen Health for improved health care. (File photo/Houston Today)

Houston council continues to lobby Northen Health for improved health care. (File photo/Houston Today)

Council continues pursuit of Northern Health

Council is set to continue its lobbying of Northern Health for health care improvements in the area when it meets with senior Northern Health officials next month.

The meeting with health authority chair Colleen Nyce and health authority chief executive officer Cathy Ulrich is part of a series of meetings local governments can have with various agencies when the Union of BC Muncipalities stages its annual convention.

This meeting, as with others, will be conducted virtually and gives council another opportunity to press the health authority for more services for residents living in the assisted living units at Cottonwood Manor.

Council’s consistent message that more services are needed for senior citizens comes at a time when Northern Health is planning to expand long term care accommodations in Smithers.

Council also also been expressing concern about ambulance service which is a provincial responsibility.

Residential tax exemption bylaw proceeding

A bylaw to provide tax exemptions for residential improvements has been given second and third reading, paving the way for an adoption the next time council meets.

As with simliar bylaws for industrial and commercial improvements, this bylaw will permit tax breaks based on the value of improvements, with those tax breaks phasing out over time.

The idea is to encourage new construction or renovation of existing housing stock.

As with the District’s other tax incentive bylaws either already in place the proposed residential revitalization tax exemption bylaw would provide a descending level of tax reductions over a set period of time provided there are minimum initial expenditures.

And in this proposed residential taxation bylaw, the tax breaks would last longer for developments within the downtown core area than in the more rural areas of the District.

That was one of the objectives provided by council to staffers in how the bylaw should be worded.

There should be “inclusion of incentives for residential construction throughout the District with enhanced incentives in the urban service area,” indicated council’s instructions.

For both rural and urban core expenditures, a minimum $100,000 valuation for newly constructed residential dwellings would be required to trigger exemptions.

Within the urban core there would be a 100 per cent deduction from the assessed value for two years, dropping to 75 per cent for the next three years, 50 per cent for the three years after that and to 25 per cent for the ninth and 10th years before ending completely.

For rural projects, the deduction would be five years instead of 10 and be 100 per cent the first year, 50 per cent for years two and three and 25 per cent for the fourth and fifth years.

Council is also proposing a minimum expenditure of $30,000 for renovations to residential buildings for deductions over a three-year period amountn to 100 per cent the first year, 75 per cent the second year and 50 per cent for the third year.

Firearms bylaw amended

It’s now official. The District of Houston council has adopted a bylaw amending its recent firearms and weapons bylaw so that groups can apply for permits for special events, military exercises and federally-accredited firearms firing ranges.

The District did tighten the use of firearms within the municipality by a new bylaw but that did not include the prospect of specific events or uses which could be approved via a permit.

The local army cadets initiated the idea of permitting by saying cadets could not get Daisy air rifle training within the District unless the bylaw was amended.