Terrace business group makes play for Thornhill study

In wading into the debate, the Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce cites crossover between Terrace and Thornhill business communities

The community of Thornhill has been a topic of conversation at Terrace council meetings for months.

The Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce has waded into the debate over the future of Thornhill.

A letter dated Jan. 12 to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development as well as to the City of Terrace and the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine calls for the ministry to examine alternatives to incorporation including boundary extension and amalgamation.

Regional district director for Thornhill Ted Ramsey has already initiated a process through the ministry that will lead to a referendum on whether Thornhill residents want to incorporate, which would mean they would have their own mayor and council, administration and services.

Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc has advocated for a broader approach which would include a feasibility study into several governance aspects, including having Thornhill become part of the city. That approach, supported by some council members, was rebuffed by a majority of council members who had a motion passed to have the city take a hands-off approach to Thornhill’s future.

Chamber executive director Carol Fielding said the letter was issued not to argue in favour for or against incorporation or amalgamation but instead to make sure the provincial government studies all scenarios before green-lighting Thornhill’s incorporation bid, even if the population votes in favour.

“Maybe incorporation is the right idea, but we don’t know. We have people who live in Terrace but their businesses are in Thornhill. We have people who live in Thornhill but their businesses are in Terrace. So there is a lot of crossover.”

For this reason, Fielding says the chamber, which has members in Terrace and in Thornhill, has a vested interest in making sure that any changes to the governing system of Thornhill doesn’t harm its members.

She said that amalgamation could prove costly in terms of property taxes to pay for infrastructure, but that so could incorporation.

Although she thinks all options need to be looked at, the letter does say that “we agree that the status quo for Thornhill is not working.”

On that point the chamber agrees with Ramsey, who argues that the large population of Thornhill is poorly served by the regional district system that makes collective decisions over a wide area.

“The Terrace and District of Commerce requests that concurrent to the deliberations of incorporation of Thornhill, the Government study and consider all other suitable options in order that all the citizens of the Greater Terrace area can choose a form of governance that will provide the best path forward into the future,” reads the chamber letter.