Big picture thinking needed for area’s future

Would a shared council for Terrace, B.C. and Thornhill be a more efficient way to administer the common interests of both communities?

Ramses II was considered one of the greatest Egyptian kings in that country’s long history. His temples and statues spread all along the Nile and he led his people through a series of military and strategic conquests that made Egypt a world power.

Across a somewhat smaller river from us in Thornhill, a Ramses with a slightly different spelling seems to be attempting somewhat less magnificent feats beginning with some highway location signs.

First, let me clarify something, I have owned a home and lived in Thornhill for 15 years, my kids went to school there and I have a great many friends that live there. Long gone are the times where regional district residents paid nothing in taxation and an ersatz wrecking yard ruined many a street. Thornhill is a proud community with a number of nice neighbourhoods and amenities.

The latest debacle over moving the “Welcome to Terrace” sign is a tempest in a jurisdictional teapot and one that reflects poorly on the entire area. While other communities band together to speak with a larger, more common voice, we seem to be mired in division and confrontation. These acts of balkanization make us look petty and small when approaching senior governments looking for acknowledgement and funding. The overwhelmingly negative feedback on The Terrace Standard website and Facebook and other social media sites should tell the people behind this that they have no, or very minimal backing for this agenda.

Overwhelmingly, people recognize that they are from “Terrace” even if they live in Thornhill. Modern politicians have learned, to their peril that ignoring social media discussions can lead to some very bad consequences.

Cases in point are readily available, Kitimat residents may reside in Whitesail, Nechako and the delightfully named “Strawberry Meadows”, but they all live in Kitimat.

Prince George has “The Hart”, College Heights and “the VLA”, Quesnel has Johnstone Sub, West Quesnel, Maple Heights and others but again, they are all residents of Quesnel.

Locally, we have Lower and Upper Thornhill (a realtor’s dream name, no doubt) the Bench, Horseshoe, North Terrace and Southside. Why choose to be separate and speak with many voices when by speaking together, we could number amongst the largest communities in northern B.C.

How attractive would it be for businesses, developers and other ventures relocating to the area to see a population of 20 thousand plus as a base of operations rather than a group of small scattered hamlets, the largest being Terrace at less than 11,500.

While not an expert on municipal administration (I’ll leave that to my co-columnist Andre Carrel), aren’t there marketability, stability and cost savings to be gained by at least discussing a renewed and redefined relationship between us all?

Would a reimagined council be a more efficient way of administering both communities’ common interests?

There are those in Thornhill that feel that Terrace residents want to dominate and meddle in “Thornhill affairs”.  Perhaps there are some people who feel that way and who would attempt to do so, but given that we haven’t even studied or discussed the benefits or pitfalls together, how can we know that for certain?

What to do? How about a city or town council with seven members, two or three being elected jointly from Thornhill, including Copper Mountain and Gossen, and perhaps another from North Terrace / Remo?

I think some great things could be accomplished if we found a way to also include Kitselas and Kitsumkalum in the mix and thereby giving a First Nations perspective to regional issues like zoning and development.

This is one suggestion only, and one that may not work, but again, if we don’t approach this openly as adults, thinking of the big picture, how do we know?

Would a separate Terrace and Thornhill be able to work together or would they be continually fighting for scraps, throwing out tax incentives to lure people and businesses away from each other?

Back to sign moving. History records that Ramses 1, devoid of the vision that marked his son’s reign, had a relatively short and uninspiring reign and has no monuments or signs to mark his place in history.

To quote a certain American politician, we are indeed “stronger together”.  We need to start talking to each other to move ahead.

Steve Smyth is a past director of the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society and a current director of the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce.