From the Houston Club to Naturally Amazing Houston
Although the Pleasant Valley had been settled since the mid 1800's, it wasn't until the turn of the 20th Century that residents began to develop a local government for the community. It all started with the Houston Club
, first formed in 1919, with the goal of fostering community spirit through recreation programming. Over time, the Club evolved into the Houston Community Club, which functioned as an early form of local government for the unincorporated village, serving as a Council, Chamber of Commerce, and Recreation Commission for the community.
The Houston Community Club did not formally become a society until 1951, despite years of service in the community. By this time, the Community Club had expanded its portfolio include the promotion of the welfare of the people, namely by securing police service, better telephone and radio service, the formation of a fire brigade, and by the mid-1950's, President Elmer Everson was urged to pursue incorporation of the community of Houston as a Village municipality.
After years of lobbying and debate within the community, the community of Houston was officially incorporated as a Village on March 4, 1957, with a census population of 612. A provisional Board of Commissioners was appointed, and saw Lee M. Newgard appointed as the Chairmen, serving alongside Commissioners Elmer Everson, Jake Friesen, Len D. Hedstrom, and Bernard J. Van Rhyn, taking no pay for their service on the Board. C.R. Matthews was also appointed as the first Village Clerk, and provided full time service to the residents of Houston and served as the Village's Notary Public, and was paid at a rate of $300 per month (approx. $2,620 per month in 2016 dollars).
By the 1960's, it had become apparent that Houston was no longer the small village it once was, and by January 1969, facing a forestry boom, Houston officially changed from a Village to a District Municipality, and the boundaries of the municipality were expanded to include over 15,000 acres of land and the Bulkley Valley Forest Industries Mill (now owned by Canfor Forest Products). The District's first Council consisted of two appointees from Bulkley Valley Forest Products (Claude L. Parish and Fred Battison), two provincial appointees (Charles Sullivan and Bernard J. Van Rhyn), and three of the former Board members (Lee Bremner, Don McEwen, and Cecil Imrie). Out of that original group, Claude Parish was chosen to be the District's first Mayor.
Over the course of nearly one half of a century, Houston has since seen much change. New parks, paved roads, new leisure facilities and infrastructure, and many amenities were completed. Several Mayors, Councillors, Chief Administrative Officers and other employees have all come and gone, leaving their mark on the forest floor through the District of Houston. From the smallest parks to the grandest infrastructure projects, these dedicated public servants strived to leave a lasting impact to benefit the community as a whole.
Today, the District of Houston operates on an annual budget of approximately $7 million, employs almost 40 staff and holds local government elections for its 7 member Council once every four years.