After many years of planning, the Thornhill sewer project is another step closer to becoming a reality.
At its March 20 board meeting, the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine board voted in favour of amending two bylaws about the sewer system and the financing of it.
Costs are estimated at $3.4 million.
Currently, upper and lower Thornhill residents have independent on-site septic systems.
That’s excluding homes and businesses on the south side of the Thornhill Creek Bridge and on Churchhill St., which had a sewer system put in after a bylaw was approved in 1994.
That bylaw allowed for the expansion of the sewer system as money became available.
The Thornhill core area is this next phase of the sewer system and includes from Thornhill Creek Bridge on Queensway over the CN tracks, up on Substation Road all the way across to the Skeena Landing hotel across the four-way stop, and goes down the Thornhill Frontage Road to Husky next to where the new hotel is being built and across the highway as far as the Chevron station.
That area also takes in the Northern Motor Inn, down Paquette St. and the west side for the community zoned properties.
“Thornhill’s been pushing on that (sewer system) probably anywhere from 15 to 20 years,” said regional district Thornhill director Ted Ramsey.
“And for Thornhill it’s a key project, absolutely key.”
Septic systems mean the land lots have to be bigger and the land owners have to maintain them, but a sewer system places the responsibility in the regional district’s hands, he added.
And it opens up the area for businesses, which are more likely to want to develop land and build on it with a sewer system, said Ramsey.
Money was never available to pay for a major portion of the expansion until now.
It comes from a specific federal-provincial program which finances projects through general taxes collected on gas sales.
Officials say the gas tax fund will pay for approximately $1.6 million of the $3.4 million anticipated cost.
The rest of the money, $1.8 million, will be borrowed and repaid by residents.
The regional district board has approved borrowing up to $2.46 million to cover that $1.8 million and any unexpected cost overruns.
The Local Government Act says the regional district could amend the bylaw for the expansion of the sewer system if at least 50 per cent of the landowners in the area approved of it by signing a petition and if that included at least 50 per cent of the net taxable value of all land and improvements.
The petition was signed by 57 per cent of land owners (27 out of 48 parcels of land), which represents 73 per cent of the net taxable value in the service area.
“We’ve done a preliminary submission to the ministry of transport for the necessary approvals to install the works within the right-of-way,” said manager works and services Roger Tooms, referring to the regional district asking for the ministry’s permission to put the sewer system in the area next to the roads in Thornhill.
Issuing the construction tender is expected “in the coming months,” he added.