Report on Houston Council

The District of Houston has appointed Carolyn Bidwell to fill the position of Director of Finance.

The District of Houston has appointed Carolyn Bidwell to fill the position of Director of Finance.

Bidwell started her first day on Monday, Nov. 23, and will have the authority to approve investments and intra-bank transfers between the District’s accounts. She will also be appointed as the Collector and Business Licence Inspector for the District.

The District’s previous director of finance William Wallace left his position on Sept. 11. In the interim, chief administrative officer Michael D. Glavin took up his duties, and after the appointment of Bidwell, will become the deputy collector and business licence inspector.

Council will also apply for grants that go toward grant writing support and economic development from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

The former will see the District apply for a $8,000 grant that will fund 75 per cent of the first four months, or 400 hours, of employment for a local grant writer. The District will top up the remaining $2,500 out of its Economic Development services contract with the Chamber of Commerce.

When it came time for questions, Coun. Rick Lundrigan asked the CAO what the success rate of the grant writers were.

“I can tell you we’ve been very successful for the last three years. Our grant writer was successful in obtaining the water treatment plant, and our grant writer was successful with water tower,” Glavin replied.

Documents from the District reveal that in 2014, the District had three grants denied out of eight, while the first half of this year saw seven out of eight grants approved.

The District is also applying for an economic development grant from the NDIT that will provide up to $50,000 that Glavin said will go towards “wages and programs for economic development for the economic development officer.”

$5,000 of this money must go towards projects with “another local government, First Nations bands and tourism or industry association,” according District files.

Economic development officer Maureen Czirfusz also released her report with data collected from 18 businesses in October’s business walk survey.

It revealed that 50 per cent of businesses voted that business was “good/increasing”, while 33 per cent voted “fair/steady”. 17 per cent stated it was “slow/poor”.

Businesspeople liked doing business in Houston because of its clientele and location, but 61 per cent of them found talented labour hard to find.

Half of the businesses polled also stated they don’t have a finalized succession plan, to which Lundrigan asked Czirfusz if she had discussed succession challenges with the Northwest Community College. Czirfusz replied they will have an advisory committee meeting with them before the end of the year.

Coun. Dawn Potvin also asked if the next business walk, scheduled this week, will happen.

“I’m trying to line up. I haven’t been able to get anyone to agree to us visiting,” Czirfusz replied.