Bob Erb gets more upset each time he drives along Highway 16 west of Prince George.
There are a continual series of highway signs providing drivers with mileage distances to any number of communities or indicating the name of the place a motorist is passing through, but none for his home community of Thornhill.
“There’s Fort Fraser, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Perow, Hazelton, you name it. Some of those places don’t even have people living there, but nothing for Thornhill,” said Erb.
“Thornhill has 4,500 people. That’s more people than practically every other community on the highway. There are hotels, gas stations, a convenience store, a golf course, dozens of businesses and restaurants.”
He traces the problem back to before the new millennium and he has proof, an official government sign that says “Thornhill” with smaller letters spelling out “unincorporated” underneath.
“There were a number of these signs and then they were taken down and not replaced. I’d like to know why,” said Erb.
He was able to rescue one those signs from the Thornhill landfill and it now hangs from a fence on his property.
“Something changed. The criteria changed. With new people here, some now think Thornhill is part of Terrace.”
As it stands now, the only sign that lets people know they are entering Thornhill from the east is a large custom-made ‘Welcome to Thornhill’ sign that Erb paid for himself.
He finds that ironic because it sits on highways ministry property, requiring him to get a permit for its placement. It tells him the ministry contradicts itself by not having its own Thornhill signs.
Erb is particularly upset that the transportation ministry’s policy on what communities are listed on signs seems to exclude any chance of Thornhill receiving recognition.
“Guide signs are installed to provide drivers distance information regarding primary locations along highways throughout the province,” reads a ministry explanation of its sign policy.
“Typically, this includes major destinations along highways and some unincorporated communities at remote points along the highway that offer basic motorist services such as fuel and food.”
The policy represents a complete failure of the highways ministry to recognize Thornhill and give it the respect it deserves, Erb continued.
“They say they have signs for remote communities. But look at that. There are communities all along the highway here so they really aren’t remote and they have signs. So why not Thornhill?”
Erb’s been promoting his campaign by dropping letters off at various locations in Terrace and Thornhill, hoping to gain more support.
In the meantime, Erb is taking one course of action by having his ‘Welcome to Thornhill’ sign refurbished by its original artist, J.J. Jung of JJ’s Woodart.
“Some of the letters are coming off of it and I want them to be more reflective so they stand out, and I want a smaller sign to hang below, one that says ‘population, 4.500.’”