On May 17 the Houston District and Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting as was held at the Idywild restaurant.
Troy Reitsma, board president for the Houston District and Chamber of Commerce, opened the meeting with a brief cap of positive and negative events that have occurred in Houston this past year.
“It was a tough year last year. I’ll go with the negative stuff first. We lost our grocery store, Huckleberry Mine was put on maintenance, and then we ended the year with Nadina Truck Service building burning down. Thankfully, Nadina Truck Service is being rebuilt and Huckleberry Mine is owned by Imperial Metals, so it is looking pretty good for that site,” said Reitsma.
Reitsma said there were some wins for the town including Houston being awarded to host the 2018 Minerals North.
“That is a great thing for us to look forward to, giving us a chance to showcase our town to the mineral community. The Chamber held a board governance course which was well attended, and put out a new visitor guide which is the best one we have had so far,” he added.
Shannon Clarke, the hired accountant for the Houston District and Chamber of Commerce board, said that this year the chamber is financially doing better.
“The deficit has been decreasing less each year, so it’s a good trend,” said Clarke. “For all the funds to have a surplus after one year is a pretty good feat.”
There are six openings for board members for the Houston District and Chamber of Commerce. Jean Marr, Bill Sullivan and Kevin Groot are stepping back from the board due to time constraints.
“Four names have been put forward to the board,” said Reitsma. “John Sullivan, Shannon Scott, and myself have put our names forward to continue on with the board, and we have a new face that has put their name forward, Dylan MacDonald from Pacific Truck.”
The four nominees were elected by acclamation.
Bill Miller, chair of Regional District Bulkley Nechako, was the keynote speaker of the evening updating the chamber board about the Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA).
Bill Miller gave an update on the RBA and its purpose to get a three percent portion of the revenues generated provincially in the last five years back into the north.
Miller says that things in regards to the RBA, things are at a stall right now until the election results are all in, but letters have been sent to all four MLAs to start discussions now.
“The New Democratic Party have given a strong commitment. They said they would guarantee that they would start negotiations by September,” said Miller. One of the requirements the RBA is asking is to have elected MLAs start negotiations with the province by September.
Miller stressed that the requests that RBA are negotiating for are reasonable.
Shane Brienen, mayor for the District of Houston, said at the meeting “Houston council put in a freedom of information request and it was discovered that since 1980 Houston has been generating a billion dollars for just stumpage.”
“When you think about all the industries in the northwest, the numbers are terrifying of what has been going out and the little that is coming back in,” said Brienen.
The meeting concluded with Reistma presenting Bill Sullivan with a plaque for over 35 years of service as a board member to the Houston District and Chamber of Commerce.
“I’ve been on board now for 14 years with Bill, he always has a great perspective, he’s never afraid to speak his mind, it’s been great being on the board with you, and we just want to say thank you,” said Reitsma.
“Every morning I look at the wall and see a plaque from the chamber to my father in 1986. Maureen [Czirfusz, manager of the Houston District Chamber of Commerce] said one day, oh there’s a few years here in the seventies that I don’t see your dad’s name here on anything. I thought about it and a couple days later I saw Maureen and said, that’s when he was mayor,” said Bill Sullivan.
Tom Euverman also received a plaque for his service on the chamber board but was unable to be at the meeting to receive it.