The grant money is coming in time for the District’s budget season. (Houston Today file photo)

The grant money is coming in time for the District’s budget season. (Houston Today file photo)

Houston to receive $1.06 million in COVID relief from Province

Burns Lake, Granisle, the RDBN among the many receiving the grant

The District of Houston will be getting $1.066 million in Covid-19 relief from the province.

The funding is coming from the recently announced $425 million Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s COVID-19 Safe Restart Grants for Local Governments fund.

The District of Houston was informed on Nov. 3 through a letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that it would be receiving this amount as part of the Covid-19 Safe Restart Grants for Local Governments.

This award can be used for addressing revenue shortfalls, facility reopening and operating costs, emergency planning and response costs, bylaw enforcement and protective services such as fire protection and police, computer and other technology costs, services for vulnerable persons in the community and other related costs.

“At this time, the District has not made any plans regarding how it will use these funds,” said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

”A staff report will be provided to Council to begin discussing the matter of how the funds will be used moving forward.”

The money comes at a time when District staffers, under Council direction, have begun planning a 2021 budget calling for a significant drop in leisure facility and pool revenue. Cost reductions are also being planned.

The funding is part of government’s $540 million funding plan for local governments that has been further divided into three streams. The $15 million stream for “Development Services” and the $100 million for “Strengthening Communities” would require local governments to apply for the funding. However, the third stream of $425 million called the “Covid-19 Safe Restart Grants for Local Governments” would come directly to the local governments to help recover their operations from any Covid-19 impact.

Other municipalities in the region to receive the grant are Telkwa, $602,000; Hazelton, $268,000; New Hazelton, $357,000; Granisle, $264,000; Smithers, $1.6 million; Terrace, $2.7 million; Kitimat, $2.2 million; Prince Rupert, $2.8 million; Burns Lake, $732,000; and Stewart $366,000.

The ministry decided the funding for the municipalities based on a formula involving two factors, a flat funding of $169,000 and an adjusted per capita amount based on the population to ensure larger municipalities receive more money than smaller ones but the smaller ones receive a higher per capita funding as they often lack a diverse tax base to restart operations.

The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) is one the 27 regional districts to receive this grant funding and will be getting $583,000.

The ministry decided the funding for regional districts based on a formula based on three factors, a flat funding amount of $300,000 to each regional district and two additional components to take into consideration the overall population and the rural population for each regional district.

“We believe this funding will contribute to the long-term recovery of local governments who are both critical service providers and crucial drivers in the British Columbia economy,” wrote Deputy Minister Kaye Krishna in the letter addressed to the municipalities.

–With files from Rod Link