Thornhill’s move toward incorporation may be put on hold with the reply from the provincial government offering up grant money to study the best option for the community.
And the best option would include the City of Terrace too.
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes sent a reply letter to the regional district acknowledging its letter from last October about the possibility of incorporation for Thornhill.
“Certainly, at 4,000 residents, Thornhill is of sufficient size and character that municipalization could be appropriate,” said Oakes in her reply letter, dated Jan. 29, 2015.
She added that it seems like “the community is ready for change because it has outgrown the rural model” but the letter from the board said Thornhill faced some challenges, such as a limited tax base.
“Given these challenges, and the community’s proximity to the City of Terrace, I am not yet convinced that it makes sense to create another municipal government in the area, and that strong consideration must also be given to inclusion of Thornhill in a reconfigured municipality for the broader Terrace area,” Oakes letter continued.
Her letter did acknowledge that the provincial government was involved in discussions with “communities to ensure that the northwest can take advantage of all the opportunities that an LNG industry has to offer.”
To help with that, she offered up a conditional planning grant of up to $60,000 to help the regional district with a “study services, governance and planning in the Greater Terrace area.”
When the study concludes, she wants regional district and city representatives to review the study and see if the two can agree on “a joint restructure study process.”
“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.”
The regional district can work with the government to satisfy the eligibility requirements for the grant, she concluded.
Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine Thornhill director Ted Ramsey, who’s spearheading the idea of incorporation, said he didn’t think the letter was professional and showed a lack of understanding for how regional districts work.
“I wasn’t all that impressed with that letter,” he said.
“There was no acknowledgment that we’re asking for incorporation. I think the attitude of the government extended to Thornhhill for years is that we’re not there and don’t count.”
Oakes’ letter said she wanted to know better who governed the area here.
“It better be the regional district or I’ve spent seven years for nothing,” said Ramsey, referring to his time as Thornhill director on the regional district board.
“I’m disappointed, I’m really disappointed.”
Oakes’ offer of grant money for a study about what system of governance would be best for Thornhill and Terrace isn’t enough to even get started, he said.
“We have serious questions and we need serious answers,” he said.