Michael Dewar was officially appointed Jan. 4 as the District of Houston’s new chief administrative officer. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

Michael Dewar was officially appointed Jan. 4 as the District of Houston’s new chief administrative officer. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

New District of Houton chief admininstrative officer officially appointed

Michael Dewar comes to the community from Kitimat

Council has approved a travel and training budget that’s less than what it was before the pandemic halted conventions and other events but more than what was spent the past two years as municipal business moved online.

In all, council has approved attendance of varying numbers of councillors at five events budgeted at $60,937, an amount that includes a contingency to handle any changes.

That’s less than 2020, the first year of the pandemic when $76,700 was budgeted but largely unspent and 2021 when paying to attend virtual events came to $10,999.

The authorization this year does cover one all-virtual event, the BC Natural Resources Forum, which consists of three days of online sessions. Three councillors will take part at a registration cost of $199 per person and a three-day per diem each amounting to $495 for a total price tag of $2,082.

Varying numbers of council members will attend the remaining four events in person with the costliest being the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler in September. Should a full slate of six people attend at a cost of $4,705 each, the total bill would be $28,230.

Legion grant request approved

Council has approved a Royal Canadian Legion Pleasant Valley Branch No. 249 grant request of $5,000 to help it buy furniture more appropriate to pandemic-related social distancing and sanitizing needs.

That, along with $25,000 the branch is hoping to get from the federal New Horizon for Seniors Program, would cover the lion’s share of the projected $32,000 cost for new tables and chairs.

“We would purchase tables which seat a maximum of four people, encouraging groups to stay within their bubble,” branch president Don Woodbeck wrote in asking council for the $5,000.

“These smaller tables would allow us to set up for each private group to be two metres apart. Also, with these funds, we would purchase new chairs covered in commercial grade vinyl that can be easily cleaned and maintained.”

These would replace the current long and narrow tables at the branch which can seat 10 to 12 people, making it difficult to keep at a safer social distance. And chair seats are cloth, making proper sanitizing impossible.

The money will come from an account set up by the District to assist social services groups and other entities affected by the pandemic.

This fund began with $100,000 and was set up using a portion of a provincial COVID-19 relief grant provided by the provincial government in 2020.

With this latest approval, there is now just under $67,000 left in the account.