The District of Houston plans to ask the provincial government for financial assistance to complete projects including the downtown revitalization and Hwy. 16 upgrades.
After completing upgrades to the north-side sidewalk of Hwy. 16, the district is seeking funding to upgrade the south side of the highway, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million.
The cost to implement the downtown revitalization plan is still unclear since the core planning document has not yet been developed.
Other plans include reopening N. Nadina Avenue to two-way traffic, which would require traffic lighting and grade crossing improvements with a price tag of $500,000.
The request for financial assistance will be made to B.C. Premier John Horgan and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Houston Selina Robinson during the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention next month.
Council decided to revitalize the downtown area and carry out improvements to the Hwy. 16 corridor after West Fraser closed its Houston Forest Products mill operation in 2014, causing the loss of 225 jobs and over $400,000 in property tax revenues - about 10 per cent of the district’s total tax revenue.
“As a result of the loss of the mill, voters are unlikely to approve debt-financing of any major projects,” explains a district staff report. “As a result, the only financing mechanisms remaining are property taxes and grant funding.”
“We would like to work with ministry staff to identify future grant funding opportunities to complete these works,” it adds.
Improving the overall appeal of Houston while implementing a new marketing strategy would attract more residents, tourists and businesses, improving the local economy while generating more tax revenue for the district.
Earlier this summer the district awarded its downtown revitalization plan’s contract to Urban Systems, which is now developing a core planning document to guide future decisions in Houston. The document is expected to be completed this fall.
“The focus of the downtown revitalization plan will be identifying a unified vision for the downtown to make it stand out as a distinct area of Houston, and make it a more attractive place to stop for tourists and new businesses,” explained Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer, earlier this summer.
The district has also secured funding to complete a marketing video project, which will engage a filmmaker to capture the best of Houston.
“The end product will promote Houston both as a place to visit and a place to live, with a key focus on our ‘naturally amazing’ opportunities in and around Houston,” added Pinchbeck.
The annual UBCM convention will be held in Whistler from Sept. 10-14, 2018.