Like diamonds, amalgamation is forever

Much to consider when dealing with Thornhill's future

What to do about Thornhill. The question is the region’s Coronation Street – a saga with no end. For a “what to do” debate to make any sense at all, we should attempt to resolve the “why do anything” question. Why do we – whoever “we” is – need to change anything with regard to Thornhill’s local governance?

Should population be a consideration? Kitimat-Stikine Regional District’s area “E” is a classic electoral area. Twenty-five regional district electoral areas have a greater population than does Kitimat-Stikine’s area “E.” On the other hand, 62 British Columbia municipalities have fewer inhabitants than does Thornhill. Population statistics are irrelevant; case in point being the population of the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s electoral area “A” which exceeds the population of City of Terrace.

If not population, then what distinguishes regional district governance from municipal governance? In the area of responsibilities for community services there is no difference. Whatever services and programs a municipal government may provide for its residents can equally be provided by a regional district. Water, sewer, fire protection, recreation, culture, land use planning, economic development, there is no difference between the two forms of local government in terms of the services and programs they are empowered to provide.

There is no difference in their respective authority to cooperate with other governing institutions, be they local, regional, provincial or national. It is not unusual for municipalities and regional districts to join forces to deliver services and offer programs for the benefit of users and contributors. There are innumerable examples around the province of inter-municipal agreements. There are also municipal-regional, and local government-provincial agreements on a wide range of local government services.

There are financial differences between the municipal and regional form of local government, but there are as many financial differences among individual municipalities, e.g., policing costs and provincial grants, as there are between municipalities and regional districts. How property taxes in a Town of Thornhill or of a Thornhill subdivision in Terrace would differ from taxes now charged property owners could be studied. We have to realize, however, that projecting what property taxes might be over the long-term is speculation.

Therefore, what to do about Thornhill is a political question; it is not economic or administrative. Thornhill is not a monolith, it is a community. As a healthy community Thornhill embodies both conflicts and the capacity for compromise stimulated by discussion and debate. Today the residents of Thornhill are represented by one person on the regional district board where the community’s local governance decisions are made. How can one person represent, defend, and argue a multitude of views and opinions so as to reach a reasoned compromise? If Thornhill were to incorporate as a municipality, a council charged with the responsibilities to govern the community would consist of five people, a mayor and four council members. A municipal council’s preeminent responsibility is to construct compromise from conflict.

Amalgamation calls for Thornhill to be incorporated into the established municipal infrastructure of the City of Terrace. This would not be a merger of two equal local governments. The amalgamation proposal amounts to a boundary expansion proposal for the City of Terrace. If this were to be done, Thornhill would be a subdivision within the City of Terrace, and what is today an independent community would be without assured representation on the municipal council. Residents of Thornhill have two choices if they cherish the independence of their community: local government by a single elected representative or by a council of five elected representatives. The kind of mutually beneficial agreements a Village of Thornhill and the City of Terrace may negotiate and re-negotiate are limited only by imagination. Incorporating Thornhill into the City of Terrace, on the other hand, would be forever.

Retired public sector administrator Andre Carrel lives in Terrace, B.C.











Just Posted

Block party at Northern View Cannery Road Race

Terrace family top the podium in each of their racing categories

Stolen property recovered

Police briefs from Sept. 9-11

Terrace couple wins Lotto Max

Money to be put towards retirement and motorcycle trip

Skeena Paddle Club awarded $2K grant for youth program

Sessions teach residents how to canoe, kayak

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

The Northern View announces inaugural Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

More than $7,000 up for grabs for biggest legal salmon and halibut

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

Most Read