Council is shelving a planned truck stop feasibility study in favour of one to develop a commercial retail, services and entertainment strategy.
The idea to examine the feasibility of a truck stop arose last year in light of the District’s continuing efforts at encouraging business activity within the downtown core.
Council set aside $5,000 of its own and then applied for $10,000 from the provincial government’s rural dividend fund but that application was placed on hold when the fund was suspended.
It then learned the $10,000 was approved under a new government program aimed at recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now with a Tim Hortons outlet being built, a truck stop feasibility study might not be viable or necessary, District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck wrote in a memo to council.
He proposed three other uses for the money — a downtown campground/RV park feasibility study, developing a commercial retail, service and entertainment strategy or examining highest and best use study of selected locations.
Provincial approval will be needed to redirect the grant to the commercial retail, service and entertainment strategy study.
Council taps CIA for grant
The District is reaching out to the Northern Development Initiative Trust for a grant that would help offset its own costs of paying for a study exploring the feasibility of both replacing the current Bymac boat launch and expanding the adjacent campground.
The District already has $100,000 from a provincial program for the study and will top that up with $25,000 of its own money. But staffers have told council that the Northern Development Initiative Trust has a Capital Investment Analysis (CIA) program that could provide up to $10,000 for such a study. If successful, that would lower the District’s commitment to $15,000.
The current Bymac boat launch silts up regularly and the District has for several years sought senior government grants to build a new one. In the meantime it has been dredging the boat launch to make it usable.
A new boat launch and accompanying expanded campground would bolster tourism in Houston and area and provide additional campground revenues for the District.
As well, the District already has been approved for $30,000 grant from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. to help pay for the capital costs of a new boat launch.