District of Houston office in Houston.

Surge of applications COVID-related relief grants

A recent surge of applications to the District of Houston for COVID-related relief grants has council deciding to top up the account, if necessary, from which the grants are allocated.

Social services groups and others who had activities affected by the pandemic were invited to apply when the account was created using $100,000 from a $1.066 million grant the District itself received from the provincial government to ease COVID-related costs.

Established in the fall of 2020, as of the first of June, four groups had made applications with council approving applications of $33,180 so that $66,820 was left.

Last week council examined four new applications and reconsidered one it had previously turned down.

That resulted in council allocating another $55,730 to the groups.

At the same time, council decided to wrap up the social services support program at the end of September.

And should it need more than the original $100,000, council authorized using money not yet spent from that $1.066 million provincial grant to cover any shortfall.

Last week’s approvals resulted in:

– $6,000 going to the Houston Hospice Society to finance a training program on bereavement for volunteers.

“With this training we would be able to offer the community a weekly drop-in style bereavement group at our office for thse who have lost a loved one, where they would receive guidance and support,” it wrote in its application to council.

– $7,700 to the Morice Mountain Nordic Ski Club in support of programs to expand coaching, to provide survival training, training videos, social events and improvements to the club’s staging area.

Club president Greg Yeomans said the club will benefit from developing more coaches.

“We had easily a 100 new skiers and lacked the capacity to help with instruction. We feel the lack of social events really hit our youth the hardest,” he wrote in requesting the money.

– $12,030 to the Houston Mountain Bike Association to cover a shortfall parking lot improvements and continued trail construction on Mount Harry Davis as part of a plan to build a family centre.

“We want to make it more accessible. Outdoor activities have been popular through the pandemic. Our family cenre is designed to bridge a gap and make down mountain biking more accessible,” association president Mark Groot wrote.

– $15,000 is going to the Houston Christian School to help finance the construction of a covered, outdoor space that can be used as a classroom and gathering space so that students and others can enjoy activities in a fresh air environment.

“Staff are encouraged to move activities outdoors when space and weather permits. Having no outdoor covered area on our school property significantly limits our ability to do so on a regularly-scheduled basis,” wrote Caroline Thompson who sits on the school’s long range planning committee.

Council also reconsidered a request from Houston Link to Learning for $17,100 to finance a series of recreational and social occasions for senior citizens.

The social services agency had first made an appeal at the June 7 council meeting but council members unanimously turned the request down pending more information.

Houston Link to Learning executive director Marianne Ells then appeared as a delegation at the June 21 council meeting after which council approved of providing $15,000.

“In the next few weeks we hope to start a seniors bowling/coffee morning at the Plaza, all free of charge. This will include local transportation, for those that need it, in partnership with the Legion and their shuttle service,” said Ells.

“This program will also include a monthly movie afternoon for Seniors and hopefully a couple of picnics over the summer.”

The above decisions to provide financial support means the District’s COVID-19 relief account for local agencies now stands at $11,090.

The first four groups to apply t council and to receive money from the District’s COVID-19 relief account were:

– Branch 249 of the Royal Canadian Legion which received $5,400 toward the replacement of its shuttle van.

– the branch also received $5,000 for new tables and chairs.

– Beanstalk Childcare received for $7,780 to expand its services,

– Houston Link to Learning received $10,000 for its community garden

– Silverthorne Elementary received $5,000 last fall to better prepare to meet its food program costs when school resumed.