That’s 10 Street, facing east, where the District of Houston wants to use grant money from senior governments to improve infrastructure. (Houston Today photo)

Grant spending decisions face council

So far, majority has been committed to downtown revitalization

  • Feb. 3, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Council is to make some crucial decisions on using grant money given to it by the provincial government in 2019 and 2020 to finance capital projects.

In 2019 the District received $4.486 million and last year it received $2.074 million from the provincial Northern Capital and Planning Grant outlay for a combined $6.56 million.

The District has already spent or committed the 2019 grant, with a large chunk going to the 9th St. improvement project, but an injection into its revenues last year of $714,505 in profits from the Dungate Community Forest can change things.

That’s because council had tagged nearly $946,415 of the 2019 grant amount toward an eventual replacement of the aging community hall.

But Dungate’s board of directors told council they wanted the profits used for something that would have a broad community benefit. That resulted in the District’s decision to to place the profits in the community hall replacement reserve account, boosting the total to nearly $1.074 million.

And that now means council can keep with its original plan to use all of the $946,415 for a new community hall or adjust its overall spending plan.

Either way, council has to come up with at least $1.306 million as a minimum to qualify for senior government grants to flesh out an anticipated a construction cost of $4.9 million.

“It is expected that council will be making a decision on whether to reallocate a portion of the $946,415 [from the 2019 grant] or to maintain its previous allocation,” says District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

Should council decide to allocate just enough of the $946,415 (or $233,830) to meet the minimum to apply for senior grants for the community hall, it could potentially have approximately $713,585 for other capital projects.

There’s no lack of projects that council could consider if it chooses to reallocate the money. It wants to replace the District’s firehall, has plans for an outdoor skating rink and would like an extensive renovation of Jamie Baxter Park. In 2019 and 2020 council also boosted the District’s roads program.

There’s also some decisions to be made about the $2.074 million received in 2020.

Following along with the District’s longterm plan for an extensive revitalization of the downtown core, council has already committed $200,000 for a detailed design to expand beyond last year’s 9th St. project.

It has allocated $355,200 for its portion of an estimated $1.776 million project wanted to improve the water system and put in acccessibility upgrades for Butler and 10th.

And it is keeping the rest of the 2020 grant in reserve for the Butler Ave. portion of the upgrades should that not be covered by federal and provincial grants.

“This amount is being firmed up by an estimate and completion [of the project] is contingent on receiving funding from both ….. the grants,” said Pinchbeck.

Houston Today