The District of Houston is continuing its pursuit of outside grants, the only way it can arrange the financing to continue with its ambitious plan to revitalize the downtown core.
With work now started to complete the Hwy16 portion of its plan and with 9th St., called Phase 1, substantially finished, council has approved two grant applications framed around tackling 10th St. this construction season.
One application is to the Northern Development Initiative Trust for $200,000 and the other to a federal program $675,000 from a federal revitalization program.
Taken together, both will help close the financing gap needed for underground and above ground work on 10th from Poulton to Butler which is called Phase 2 of the long-range downtown plan.
The District needed to make two separate applications because of different eligibility requirements, explained District chief administrative officer Michael Dewar.
The one to the Northern Development Initiative Trust is for $200,000 and would be combined with $100,000 already in a District of Houston reserve account thanks to an earlier provincial grant for mainly above ground work, he said.
“The grant does not cover below ground infrastructure replacement work that is associated with the overall project,” Dewar said.
But the $675,000 federal grant wanted can be spent on underground works and is meant to be combined with $204,300 from the District’s water reserve account, $84,500 from the District’s sewer reserve and $1.282 million from the same reserve account of provincial monies the District would use for its Northern Development Initiative Trust application.
The use of reserve monies is “provided that approval is received in time to tender the project for the 2022 construction season,” Dewar noted of council’s decision.
“The proposed work will include improvements to the asphalt, sidewalk and curb and gutter, street scape enhancements such as decorative sidewalks, lighting, vegetation and seating and upgrades to water and sewer infrastructure,” he said.
“Our objective is to promote economic development by facilitating accessibility, walkability and development in the downtown core.”
The $1.382 million from the reserve of provincial monies comes from $6.56 million received by the District in 2019 and 2020 to use for significant capital projects or to plan for those projects.
It has already been tapped to help pay for 9th Street work.
The impetus for a revitalized downtown grew out of the West Fraser’s closure of its Houston Forest Products sawmill in 2014, a move that affected the community’s workforce and its economic foundation.