City of Terrace treads lightly on Thornhill

Despite a motion to not interfere in Thornhill's decision, mayor says provincial study will need Terrace's participation at some point

A City of Terrace motion to not interfere with moves by Thornhill to become its own municipality shouldn’t block it from being involved in a study on governing options, says Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc.

Speaking last week, Leclerc said the study, to be financed with $60,000 from the provincial government, will need Terrace’s participation at some point.

“It won’t be interfering if that study comes and asks us questions, and we provide information that is relevant to the study,” she said.

“I just think you have to be really sensitive to people, to situations,” Leclerc continued. “If there is going to be a contractor or an employee, or whoever is going to do the study, and they are looking to the city for information, then the city will provide that information.”

The city’s non interference motion was passed last December, immediately after municipal elections in which the subject of Thornhill’s future as its own municipality or joining the city became an issue.

Moved and seconded by councillors Stacey Tyers and Lynne Christiansen and passed with the support of councillors Michael Prevost and James Cordeiro, it said the city supports Thornhill “in choosing their own form of self-government and that we will not interfere.”

The motion was opposed by Leclerc and councillors Brian Downie and Sean Bujtas.

It was then amended in January so that the city could at least take part in a study on Thornhill governance options.

The Thornhill study was also the subject of discussion at the Feb. 23 council meeting in which Tyers filled in for Leclerc who was absent.

“I think it’s clear that when the regional district asks for the city to weigh in then the city will weigh in,” said Tyers who is also one of two city council representatives on the regional district board and its chair.

“They [the regional district] will be moving forward working with the Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture, to decide the framework of the study they will do, and then when the regional district needs the city to weigh in they’ll ask them to,” said Tyers.

The debate on Thornhill’s future opened last fall when the regional district backed a move by its regional district representative, Ted Ramsey, to ask the province to consider incorporation.

Ramsey said the rural community, which has the highest concentration of population within the regional district, has outgrown that governing model and should become its own municipality.

In a reply last month, Coralee Oakes, the provincial cabinet minister responsible for local governments, said incorporation is only one option to be considered and that “strong consideration must also be given to inclusion of Thornhill in a reconfigured municipality for the broader Terrace area.”

To that end she offered up to $60,000 for a study outlining services, governing structures and planning in what she’s calling “the Greater Terrace area.”

The regional district has accepted the offer and is now working on its details with the province.

“Upon completion of this study, I will look to the representatives from both communities to review the information gathered and consider whether they can agree on a joint restructure study process,” wrote Oakes in her study offer letter.

“At that time I will consider whether, from a provincial perspective, the creation of a separate municipality for Thornhill would be a tenable outcome and could be considered as an option in a restructure process,” she continued.

Ramsey has since said he’s disappointed with the response from Oakes, saying she doesn’t understand the issues facing the Thornhill community.