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Grant to lead to more grants

Businesses who want to update or otherwise improve the look of their storefronts might be able to get a financial boost from the public sector to defray some costs.

It could come from the Northern Development Initiative Trust which is willing to send $20,000 to the District of Houston which, in turn, would cut a cheque to qualifying businesses.

Those businesses, based on eligible expenses, could receive 50 per cent of those expenses up to a maximum of $5,000.

Maureen Czirfusz, the District’s economic development officer and also the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, told the District in a memo that the initiative trust’s business facade program has benefits.

Subsidizing improvements lead to “enhanced economic viability and vibrancy of northern and central B.C. communities by supporting visual improvements such as facade, signage, murals, architectural features, siding, lighting and awnings,” she wrote in a memo.

The Northern Development Initiative Trust got its start via a provincial government nest egg coming from the sale by the provincial government of BC Rail’s assets to CN Rail.

Interest earned from that initial capital as well as grants it receives provides the money for various social and economic development programs in the north.

Grant to lead to more grants

The Northern Development Initiative Trust is also being asked for $8,000 to subsidize the District’s own grant writer position for the District’s 2022 budget year.

If successful this would be the third year the District has received a subsidy to pay for a grant writer who submits applications to senior governments, other agencies and companies for money for various District’s projects.

The District also makes the grant writer’s services available to local non-profit community groups who want to apply for grants for their own projects.

Within the District’s structure, the grant writer position is twinned with that of the deputy corporate services director.

That twinned position was held by Holly Brown until this summer when she was named Director of Corporate Services. New hire Madelaine Swift is now the deputy corporate services director and grant writer.

Subsidy sought for senior position

A third financial request was authorized by council to be made to the Northern Development Initiative Trust, this time for up to $50,000 for 2022 to pay for the District’s economic development officer position which is now filled by Maureen Czirfusz.

An application guide provided by the initiative trust to local governments outlines a number of activities through which a grant may be eligible.

Those activities could be “producing economic development plans, business retention and expansion plans, community and downtown revitalization plans, marketing plans and workforce attraction planning,” the application guide indicates.

If the grant covers planning, it would also cover bringing those plans to life to further economic development by “conducting business retention and expansion activities and implementing specific action items identified from a business retention and expansion plan.”

Telus cell tower backed

Council has given its blessing to a plan by Telus to erect a 141-high cell tower at 3550 Mt. Davis Way, just north of the cemetery.

“The proposed facility, if approved, will support both economic development and public safety since the majority of calls to emergency service providers are now placed via wireless services,” Telus consultant Brian Gregg noted in documents submitted to council.

The tower’s planned location, which is zoned rural residential, has access and power.

There was one comment directed to Telus when it advertised its plan and that came from someone along the Morice River Forest Service Road.

“I realize thee are only seven residences out along the Morice but we have no Telus cell service,” wrote Bobby Seinen from C.A.S. Forest Care Ltd.

“With the pipeline constructin, traffic has increased exponentially. We too have private land at 13.5 kilometre and would welcome a tower that might allow safe travel along the Morice River corridor,” he added.