Dwain Erhardt, a Houston resident, speaking to District of Houston council on Dec. 5, 2017. (Ann Marie Hak photo)

Dwain Erhardt, a Houston resident, speaking to District of Houston council on Dec. 5, 2017. (Ann Marie Hak photo)

Public input about Rural Dividend Grant

Bymac park development versus development of snowmobile trails

In the story “Houston council applies for Rural Dividend Grant,” published in the Houston Today Nov. 29, 2017 issue, District of Houston staff was directed to apply for downtown revitalization for the project development grant in the amount of $10,000 and the development of Bymac Park for the single applicant grant in the amount of $100,000.

At the District of Houston council meeting on Dec. 5, 2017 Dwain Erhardt, a Houston resident, said he disagreed with council’s decision to apply the grant for Bymac Park and said that he would rather see this be used for tourism infrastructures like the trails of the snowmobiling club.

“It is my understanding that council wants to spend anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000 to upgrade Bymac Park. Who will benefit from this? The parking lot and boat launch is often taken up by out of town guides. Will the District of Houston start charging a fee for boat launching and parking?” said Erhardt.

The single applicant Rural Dividend Grant requires a contribution from the applicant of 20 per cent of the cost of the project, 10 per cent of which can be from in-kind donations.

There is a budget of $34,008 currently committed to the development of Bymac Park, which was established during the budget meeting for capital and operational projects in the District of Houston earlier this year. In the Nov. 21, 2017 District of Houston council meeting, it was decided that projects currently underway and that have already have a financial budget should be selected to apply for the support of the Rural Dividend Grant.

Erhardt asked if the current camp cost of $10 a night or $25 for a week is a realistic rate and how much revenue is generated by Bymac Park in comparison to how much it costs to maintain it.

“The Houston snowmobile trails in and around Houston would be far more beneficial [to apply for as a project application],” Erhardt

Partnering with the Houston Hikers Society, Houston Mountain Bike Association, the Houston Snowmobile club, and the Morice Mountain Nordic Ski club to develop trails, trail mapping, or tail marking in the amount for the single applicant grant of $100,000 was one of the suggestions foreligible projects. It was not selected for the application because Houston council wanted to commit projects that were already in progress and had a financial budget set aside to support the 20 per cent contribution requirement.

“With people travelling from out of town to stay in town to access the snowmobile trails, this would definitely benefit the community better,” said Erhardt.

Houston council thanked Erhardt for his input. Changes to the application for the Rural Dividend Grant were not discussed at the council meeting. The deadline for submission of the Rural Dividend Grant is Dec. 15, 2017.