District of Houston

Houston park plan contract awarded in

Urban Systems has been given the contract to come up with a plan to completely redo Jamie Baxter Park.

The consulting company was one of six to bid on the contract at a price of $28,650, the third lowest of the companies to bid. The lowest bid came in at $15,860.61 and the highest was $47,286.75.

“After careful review, Urban Systems’ proposal best fit the intention of the proposed project,” a memo from leisure services director Tasha Kelly said.

“Urban Systems has a sound understanding of Houston’s vision and values, along with a unified design perspective,” she said in noting that the company prepared the District’s 2018 parks and recreation master plan.

Revitalizing Jamie Baxter Park, then estimated to cost $500,000, was a key consideration of that plan.

In broad terms, Urban Systems sketched out a plan that included the possibility of redeveloping and old campground at the park, adding a multi-purpose sports court, placing exercise equipment close to the seniors centre, revitalizing the bike park and building a new playground.

Welcome back

After more than a year of meetings conducted over the phone or virtually over the internet, the District of Houston council’s sessions are once more open to the public following the provincial government’s decision to move to Stage 3 of its pandemic re-opening plan.

Up to 30 people are now permitted in the council chambers at any one time and councillors and employees are no longer required to wear masks during meetings, District corporate services director Duncan Malkinson outlined in a memo.

But, Malkinson noted, “councillors and employees are required to carry a mask with them and to wear the mask when in close proximity with other people (less than two metres/six feet apart.)”

And those who wish to attend meetings but who have a fever or chills, a cough or diarrhea or other communicable disease symptoms are being asked to participate remotely.

Malkinson said that remote options for participation will remain in place, part of a series of measures tied to the District’s communicable disease plan.

One of those measures is keeping council chambers doors open to improve airflow during meetings and another is having signs encouraging hand hygiene.

Tax exemption plan tweaked

Council has amended two parts of its planned bylaw providing tax exemptions to industrial properties based on improvements made to the properties.

One change reflects the reality that industrial projects can take longer than one year to complete so that the exemption value calculation now includes the year preceding the beginning of construction as the reference year.

The second change removes the prospect of temporary buildings being included for tax exemption eligibility. That fits council’s position of encouraging permanent structures.