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Major provincial grant continues to aid District spending plans

Focus this year is on 10th Street work

The District of Houston is continuing to draw from a substantial provincial grant already in its bank account that can be spent on either planning out or financing major projects.

This time it’s to spend $1.283 million to move the District to the second phase of its longterm downtown revitalization program which is work along 10th Street. The first phase involved work along 9th Street.

That money will be combined with $288,800 from the District’s water and sewer reserves for a package of below ground and above ground infrastructure improvements but will be spent only if the District receives a $675,000 federal grant to complete financing.

The planned spending has meant an adjustment to the District of Houston’s five-year taxing and spending plan that’s required by provincial legislation.

First reading of a bylaw allowing for the adjustment took place Feb. 15, opening up a phase for public comment leading up to final council approval.

The five-year plan never concludes — the fifth or final year drops off at the end of each year to be replaced by the incoming year.

The major provincial grant, called the Northern Capital and Planning grant, was provided in two chunks in 2019 and 2020 amounting to $6.56 million.

Its value to the District has already been realized as a substantial contributor to the first downtown improvement phase, the below and above ground work along 9th Street.

In 2019, the first year the grant was received, the District allocated $150,000 to close the financing gap so that the arena ammonia plant could be replaced.

The District also increased its annual road works budgets to pave streets it could otherwise not afford.

If the District does get a federal grant for 10th Street and the project does go ahead this year, the Northern Capital and Planning grant balance would drop below $500,000.