District of Houston agrees to help finance regional recreation

A modest tax increase will be in place for 2023

The District of Houston council has officially signed up to participate in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s new regional recreation initiative.

Formal approval came from the council when it met May 17 and with that approval came a commitment to provide $14,775 through a modest annual tax increase beginning in 2023.

Houston has been bundled together with the surrounding rural area, which is Area G within the regional district, and the Village of Granisle as one of four taxation areas for the regional recreation function.

Regional district planner Jason Llewellyn briefed council at the meeting about the steps leading to financing regional recreation initiatives.

The foundation for a regional recreation financing and development program stems from a lengthy study conducted by the regional district in which existing recreational amenities were listed and comments from residents and volunteer recreation clubs and group were taken into account.

Easy access to lakes and rivers, campgrounds and trails formed a major component of responses received as did concerns about maintenance of trails and boat launches along with damages caused either from blow-down and over growths on hiking and biking trails.

A regular budget stream through taxation financing was also laid out as an alternative to volunteer groups having to submit ongoing applications for grants and other assistance.

Having the regional district provide an overall administrative structure could also ease requirements for regulatory approvals and contact with provincial ministries.

A regional recreation initiative further fits in with the District’s desire to expand the Dungate Community Forest in such a fashion that logging can complement the development of recreational opportunities and that profits from logging can provide financing for outdoor projects.

In discussions, District of Houston councillors emphasized that any budget formula be such that money raised in one area stay in that specific area. And they said any program should be mutually beneficial to both municipalities and surrounding rural areas.