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Proposed Eliza’s Village development in Thornhill seeking zoning amendments

The developer is holding two town hall style public meetings in September
A concept image of the proposed Eliza’s Village development in Thornhill, phase one and two, as presented to the RDKS planning committee on Aug. 14, 2020. (Enterprise4Good)

An ambitious planned Thornhill development called Eliza’s Village offering sustainable entry level, low income, family and multiple senior housing options is one step closer to reality, and the public will have opportunities to weigh in next month.

On Aug. 14, the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine board gave first and second readings to zoning amendments in the Thornhill Official Community Plan and the Electoral Area E Zoning Bylaw that would change the site of the old Thornhill forestry nursery bordered by Edlund Ave. from its current rural/low density rural designation to community/community use and institutional use designation.

Current zoning bylaws do not allow for integration of all the aspects of the diverse plan, so the developer, Enterprise4Good (E4G), would like zoning rules changed to allow for the project. E4G has an agreement to buy the property, but that is contingent on rezoning.

Eliza’s Village is holding town hall style meetings at the Thornhill Community Hall from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sept. 12, and 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 14. Residents will have the opportunity to learn more about the project, give feedback and ask questions.

The regional district also set a tentative date for a public hearing regarding the “village style” development on Sept. 30. However, the developer must submit a technical report detailing the sewage disposal system, as well as a site drainage and stormwater report and a traffic impact study before the district can advertise and confirm the public hearing.

Verna Wickie represented the Pacific North Coast Development Society, which is the intermediary between E4G and the RDKS, at the Aug. 14 meeting. She said that those reports are in progress.

“Over the next 12 months we are hoping to have completion of the rezoning for phase one and two, set up of the property for construction with WorkSafe BC protocols for safety in COVID-19, final design of the first phase drawings for construction and move first equipment on-site for central heat and shovels in the ground,” she said.

Eliza’s Village is named after Eliza Wright, a member of a prominent Kitselas family. She married English settler Tom Thornhill, after whom the community is named. The development has permission from the Wright family to use the name.

The proposed project would be developed in phases over a seven to 10-year period and have entry level, low income, family and multiple senior housing options.

Eliza’s Village plans to have around 10 buildings to support Northern Health, including palliative care, hospice, autism and Alzheimer’s care.

The idea is based on similar developments in Europe.

One of the most interesting aspects of the project would be a waste water treatment plant. E4G worked with fourth-year environmental engineering students at the University of Northern British Columbia to do a concept study on a modular system. Other homes in Thornhill could use the new plant for their wastewater treatment in the future as modules are added.

The design does not include single use infrastructure – facilities like commercial kitchens, dining halls and open spaces will be available for use by local community groups.

Enterprise4Good is based in Calgary and says it has more than $50 million in assets and the funds available for the core of Eliza’s Village. The total number of housing units and cost of the project has not been determined yet, but 125 units are planned for stages one and two.

While E4G is a registered charity, it uses a social enterprise model, meaning that it looks and acts like a regular business. It strives to make a profit, but the difference is that social enterprise organizations mainly use profits to further social objectives, like reinvesting in developments like Eliza’s Village or starting new projects.

READ MORE: ‘Village style’ development proposed for Thornhill