DISTRICT OF HOUSTON
October 29, 2013
District of Houston Announces Community Transition Team
Mill Closure – Community Adjustment – Transition Plan
Houston, B.C. – District of Houston announced on Monday, October 28th that it is partnering with the Province of British Columbia and local stakeholders on the Community Transition Team that will work to address the effects of the closure of West Fraser’s Houston, B.C. mill announced on October 24, 2013. The goal of the Community Transition Team is to ensure the stabilization and revitalization of the community and its residents lives in response to the loss of the 225 jobs at the mill in May 2014.
Mayor Bill Holmberg & Council Urge Confidence
Mayor Bill Holmberg says his and Council’s first concern is the well-being of the people and businesses impacted. Council is committed to seeing everything possible done to assist them and has spoken with B.C. Ministers and the companies who are operating mills in Houston, B.C. - West Fraser and Canfor. The Mayor says residents can have confidence in the Transition Team and in Houston’s future.
Mayor Holmberg points out that the continuing Canfor mill is now certain of an adequate timber supply for the foreseeable future. The District of Houston local government will see reduced property tax revenues from West Fraser of $525,000 per year starting in 2015. The Mayor advises the District’s financial plan for 2014-2018 will be adjusted without the loss of any major services.
The Mayor encourages anyone with concerns to contact him or Linda Poznikoff, CAO at the District office or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. All District Councillors are also available (see web site).
Experienced Community Transition Team Members Engaged
The five provincial members of the Transition Team lead by Sarah Fraser, Executive Director, Regional Economic Operations, Economic Development Division of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training arrived in Houston for launch meetings on October 28, 2013. The Province received the District of Houston’s request for community transition assistance shortly after the West Fraser announcement. Team members from B.C. and District of Houston have been working together since October 25, 2013.
B.C. team members have years of experience in successfully assisting communities such as Burns Lake, Kitimat and Mackenzie. Their work efforts focus on Worker Transition (Jobs, Support and Retention), Economic Development (Rebuilding Tax Base), and Community Services (Income Loss Impacts). Sarah Fraser may be contacted at 250-952-0644 or email Sarah.Fraser@gov.bc.ca.
The three District of Houston members of the Transition Team lead by William Wallace, Director of Finance have years of experience in rural B.C. successfully planning, developing and attracting major capital project investors and financing (infrastructure, plants and resorts). William Wallace may be contacted at the District office or email email@example.com.
The Transition Team plans to deliver within 30 days of its formation an Inventory of Opportunities and Transition Plan for the District of Houston.
B.C. Ministers Shirley Bond and John Rustad Pledge the Province’s Support
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, spoke with Mayor Bill Holmberg on October 25, 2013, and assured him that the Province will work closely with the District and provide expertise and support on the ground. Houston will continue to be an important industrial and recreational centre in the North with the Canfor mill, nearby mines such as Huckleberry and expected LNG pipeline development and maintenance operations.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and MLA for Nechako Lakes which includes the District of Houston, met with District of Houston Councillors and Transition Team members on October 25, 2013 in Houston, B.C. The Minister also assured them that Houston, B.C. and its residents would receive the support they need from the Province through this transition period. Houston could serve as an important staging area for gas pipeline construction, maintenance and monitoring in the near term, and a new non-forest sector plant should be developed on the present West Fraser site given its favorable access to energy, ocean ports, railway and skilled labour. The Minister is planning to be in Houston on consecutive Fridays this November 2013 (schedule permitting). Minister Rustad may be contacted through his Regional Office at 250-567-6820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
District of Houston
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