District provides first COVID relief grant

Has established a $100,000 fund for community groups

First COVID relief grant given

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249 is the first community organization to receive a COVID-19 relief grant from the District of Houston.

The grant of $5,400 will help offset costs of the Legion’s shuttle service that have increased with more seniors and others using the service stemming from the pandemic.

Council several weeks ago set aside $100,000 from a $1.066 million COVID-19 relief grant it received from a federal-provincial program to disburse to community groups whose activities have been affected by the virus.

The District so far has not set any specific criteria as to how it will respond to requests for assistance.

“Provided that the program serves a vulnerable population, maximizes its community impact, and does not require a large portion of the total funding available, grants through this program are likely to be received well,” said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

A portion of the $1.066 million grant is being used to offset the District’s own revenue losses and to boost sanitization at the arena. Just over $640,000 is being kept in reserve to respond to further pandemic situations as they evolve.

District preps for disaster

The District of Houston has officially signed onto a bid by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to set out evacuation routes within municipal boundaries in response to large-scale disasters or other emergencies.

The regional district is asking for $192,154 from a province-wide program to plan routes in Houston, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle, Smithers, Fraser Lake and Telkwa.

If successful in its application, the regional district would map out evacuation routes, keying on how long it would take for residents to leave an area, set routes for emergency vehicles to use and identify any problems in advance.

Building inspection contract signed

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako building inspectors will once again be providing a service to the District of Houston.

A contract for 2021-2025 continues the arrangement between the two local governments which started in 2018.

The cost for next year will be $41,524 with District staffers noting there will be a fluctuation over the years based on the District’s portion of the overall cost of the service provided by the regional district to other participating local governments.

Housing bids in process

The District is moving along with two amending bylaws needed for property owners at 3600 Viewmount to separate off a section for rural residential lots.

As many as 13 rural residential lots could be developed.

A public hearing will be held Jan. 5, 2021 allowing adjacent property owners to provide comment if they wish.

And a bid by the owners at 2588 Avalon Ave. to place a manufactured home there is underway.

The owners need a development variance permit for that manufactured home because it is narrower than would be normally permitted, but do note they wish to demolish an existing structure that is showing signs of deterioration and that is placed on a non-conforming wood block foundation.

A variance permit application would involve comment from adjacent property owners if they so wished.