THE continuing debate over the future relationship between the City of Terrace and Thornhill has sharpened with a clear majority of businesspeople in the area saying the two should join together.
That position was supported by 62 per cent of the businesspeople surveyed this fall in a wide-ranging examination of local business attitudes and opinions.
Of the 200 responding businesspeople in the survey, 19 per cent preferred the status quo, 12 per cent believed Thornhill should shift from being an electoral area within the Kitimat-Stikine regional district and become its own municipality, and seven per cent didn’t know what governance option they would support or provided no response.
The main question asked was “From a business perspective, which of the following governance options do you generally support the most?” and it was contained in a survey conducted by the MNP accounting and consultancy firm in conjunction with the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce. A survey company hired by MNP contacted 1,333 businesses, spoke with 457 and had 200 surveys completed in September. Of the 200, 107 were chamber members.
Results were released at a MNP/Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce breakfast last week.
“This has been around quite awhile and it’s sure to come up again,” commented Terrace MNP partner Michael Johnson, one of those presenting the results at the breakfast.
Of those businesses surveyed, 80 per cent are located within the city, 15.5 per cent are located in Thornhill and 4.5 per cent are located elsewhere, including Kitimat.
Johnson said the survey data collected was not detailed enough to determine what kind of governance option was preferred by either Thornhill-based businesses alone or Terrace-based businesses alone.
Proposals to merge the governing structures of Terrace and Thornhill have failed in the past but the topic emerged again this fall after a ‘Welcome to Terrace’ sign on Hwy16 in Thornhill was removed at the behest of Ted Ramsey, Kitimat-Stikine regional district’s Thornhill director.
Ramsey’s on the record as wanting Thornhill to incorporate as its own municipality.
But he’s said that taxpayers in a standalone Thornhill would still purchase City of Terrace recreation and cultural services just as they do now, since it is efficient and cost effective.
In an open letter released in October following the sign removal, the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce called for a renewed conversation on governance.
“Recent discussions around the removal of the ‘Welcome to Terrace’ sign have shown that many people, wherever they live, recognize they are part of the Greater Terrace Area,” the letter signed by chamber president Val Gauvin said.
“The Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce feels it is a crucial time to elevate the discussion to how we can re-imagine a relationship that would create a Greater Terrace Area that allows us to establish a place where people want to live and that businesses want to invest in,” the letter indicated.