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Senior government grants boost local projects

Downtown revitalization program a key beneficiary

Nearly $2.5 million in grants have flowed into the District of Houston in the past three years to help finance projects that might otherwise not be possible.

Figures released at the Aug. 1 District of Houston council meeting indicate the $2.5 million is about half of what was applied for in support of $6.3 million worth of projects.

District of Houston chief administrative officer Michael Dewar noted that the approval list demonstrates the value of having a grant writer.

In itself the District’s grant writing function is supported by an $8,000 grant from the Prince George-based Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Topping the approved list to help pay for the below ground replacement of water and sewer pipes and above ground rebuilding now underway on 20th St. in the downtown core is $675,000 from the federal government and $200,000 from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Water main replacement work is finished as are sewer repairs and preparations have now started to build up roads for paving. Project completion is anticipated by October.

Another $297,375 is also coming from the provincial government through the Northern Development Initiative Trust to hire by contract a project manager to see the District through a list of planned projects, one of which is rebuilding 11th St. in the downtown core.

The Northern Development Initiative Trust is also providing $182,700 to hire someone to fully develop a long-standing desire of the District to encourage more housing development and $154,948 to hire someone to update and strengthen the District’s emergency response program in light of the changing climate.

The trust is also providing $97,200 so the District can update and streamline its development bylaws, a factor the District views as needed to encourage business investment within the community.

A federal grant of $100,000 is going to help the District prepare a master plan indicating where and at what point it needs to replace and maintain infrastructure.

A longstanding wish to address annual flooding along Silverthorne Creek is being developed thanks to a senior government $150,000 grant. That will then form the basis for another grant application to pay for the work.

While the District has been successful in getting grant support to improve boat launching at Bymac Park, it has been less successful, so far, in getting grants for a complete overhaul of camping and recreation amenities there.

Two grant applications, one for $1 million from the provincial government and $250,000 from the provincial government, leading toward a $2 million project were denied.

The District also wants to replace its aging community hall and has yet to hear back on two substantial grant applications which, if successful, would cover a majority of the construction budget.

The list does not include two other significant grants that came from the provincial government which did not require applications to be made.

One, in 2019 and in 202o, called the Northern Capital and Planning Program amounted to $6.5 million, portions of which have already been allocated to the downtown improvement and other infrastructure projects.

And just this spring the District received $1.7 million as part of $1 billion distributed by the province to local governments. That has been deposited in a high interest-earning savings account pending decisions on how it should be spent.