Will roads in Terrace

Saying ‘no’ to industry leaves community in disrepair

Terrace and the northwest will remain strapped for cash until there is more investment here

The expression “knock-on” is defined as something progressively affecting other people or things related directly or indirectly to whatever were first affected.

Anyone who has ever spent any time recently in Mills Memorial can see the normal effects of aging and wear and tear on the building.

Stained ceiling tiles, peeling paint and missing trim are all signs of a property past its prime. People who work in the facility describe cramped operating rooms, overcrowded hallways and a general malaise about the place due to repairs and renovations being put off due to a shortage of funding. A replacement for Mills has been at the top of the priority list for Northern Health for the past number of years, but every year, it sadly seems to slip backwards once again.

Across the tracks, Skeena Middle School, has a poorly constructed, asphalt surfaced “running track”, unsuitable for much of anything other than dog walking. Student athletes are training in other towns where safe and decent facilities exist. Local fundraising efforts are stalled and several plans and renovations have been rejected due to “lack of funds.”

The cash-strapped school board says it has more important priorities for its limited funds. Meanwhile in the lower mainland, schools and communities have lighted stadiums and proper ball fields.

Down the highway a bit, the Hazelton ice rink was recently condemned for having an unsafe roof. The death sentence has been hanging over the old barn for a number of years but the axe finally fell, leaving the community without a sorely needed recreational facility. The community was recently successful in receiving limited funding in order to decapitate the building and offer limited hockey and skating opportunities.

Closer to home again, driving the 4600 block of Greig Avenue feels like something out of Afghanistan or rural Tibet, particularly on a motorcycle or small car. Bringing it up to proper condition is “on the list” but again, who knows when it will make it to the front of the line.

All of these seemingly disparate things all actually have something in common, and that’s a lack of money available to fix, fund, build or repair them. Regardless of the need, the cupboard, we are told, is bare.

In the meantime, some vocal groups continue to say “no” to much needed industrial and other development.

This habit appears to be rearing its ugly head once again regarding the recent request for Pomeroy Lodging’s proposed hotel, convention centre and casino. From the very outset of the announcement, comments online ran the gamut from “We don’t need gambling” (sorry, we already have a casino under the same Chances banner), “They’ll take all the money out of town” (pardon, but Chances already generates a significant amount of local revenue for both the municipal and provincial coffers, not to mention local sponsorships and donations) to “People are stupid for gambling” (sorry again, but as long as it’s legal, you don’t get to pick your neighbour’s entertainment).

These are frequently the same people who ridicule the city’s attempts at development at the Skeena Industrial Development Park with Chinese partners. While some scepticism is natural due to the failure of previous Chinese partnership misadventures, the prudent thing to do would be to wait and see how things develop before suggesting that its all a waste of time and money.

The point of this is that when you say “no” to something new, to something out of the ordinary and to something you may not agree with, is that there is frequently a knock on effect to consider. And usually, that knock on effect is a lack of community donations, school tax revenue and municipal budget money to pay for Greig Avenue, to pay for the kids in Hazelton and at Skeena Middle School and to pay for replacing Mills Memorial Hospital.

So make your decisions wisely, because the “knock on” may affect you in ways that you may not have previously considered.

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