The former District of Houston council has left one interesting task for the new council which was sworn in Nov. 1.
And that’s what to do with the $410,744 that’s left from the $1.066 million sent by the provincial government to the District in 2020 to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on District operations and finances.
To date, the District has allocated monies from the COVID grant for personal protective equipment, increased cleaning and sanitation and has covered off the loss of income when the leisure centre and arena were either closed or had their use severely restricted.
And $100,000 was set aside for community groups and others also affected by the pandemic. Not all of that sum was used and the remainder returned to the larger COVID account.
Before it left office, the old council set out this list for staffers to research:
– replacing locks and keys throughout District facilities
– replacing the arena’s internal doors
– buying a portable public address system
– updating District office furniture, including furniture that is ergonomically correct
– updating District IT systems
– updating and upgrading the council chamber
In 2021 alone, the District used nearly 25 per cent of the $1.066 million grant to cover off revenue loss from the leisure facility, community hall, arena and campground.
Council also authorized a $60,000 program to upgrade the ability to livestream and record council meetings and other District events.
Also set aside from the COVID grant in 2021 was $87,000 to cover employee COVID-19 sick leaves, but that amount was never touched.
Of the $100,000 available for community groups and others, $11,090 remained before council decided to wrap up the program.
Groups receiving money included the Royal Canadian Legion, Beanstalk Childcare, Houston Link to Learning, Silverthorne Elementary, Houston Hospice Society, the Morice Mountain Ski Club, the Houston Mountain Biking Association and the Houston Christian School.
The $1.066 million sent to Houston was part of $425 million the province, assisted by the federal government, made available to local governments across B.C.
Local governments receiving the money could use it widely and while the province won’t be auditing how the money was spent and won’t be clawing back any escess, local governments do have to release where they used the money.