The Regional District of Kitimat – Stikine invited the people of Thornhill, BC to a Consultation on Governance and Services on July 14, 2018, where neighbours could watch, listen and then ask questions on who, why and what could be happening in Thornhill’s future. For the twenty or so people that arrived at the Thornhill Community Centre, on a beautiful hot summer’s day, I found it to be very informative and the conversation enlightening. Thornhill, BC is in a unique time in its history, the question is, where will it take us going forward.
Now, I am not going to lie about why many choose to live here. Several advantages stem from affordability to quiet neighbourhoods, and being so close to Terrace, BC, most services are “piggy-backed,” so you have almost everything here that you need to live in happiness. Probably the number one positive reason for living here, on the list, would be property taxes. Yes, they are very reasonable when compared to what you would pay in Terrace, or Vancouver. Probably on the other end of the scale of least likely peeves, would be not having access to sewer utilities. In general, almost every property owner needs to have a septic field because of this missing service. So, one of the questions posed, where does Regional District fit into this?
So, what is the purpose of this meeting? Of the 3,993 residences of Thornhill, its very size to density means this question of how the community should move forward, handled it needs, what are the options it has, are just some of questions to be asked that need to be answered. So, this step, Regional District is asking the people of Thornhill what they would like to see, and want, in terms of governance, and community development, so they can focus on key areas, “in a full Governance Study” (Fact Sheet No. 1) yet to come. This could then lay down the foundation for a possible “referendum on change in governance” (Fact Sheet No. 1). In addition to this public event, there is an on-line survey to fill out on this too that can be found on the Regional District’s website.
From what I got in the meeting is that many in Thornhill do want change, yet keeping things the same too are paramount in certain circles, and this seems to be the divide. I could sum it up as: Keep everything the same, as is; moving forward and incorporating, or becoming an official community with its own municipal government; amalgamating with the City of Terrace, BC, which is just across the Skeena River, merging with their infrastructure. The elephant in the room: Taxes are going to go up, no matter what side you are on. (See Fact Sheet#2 for description of services and maps)
In closing, I think the one point that I would stress in general and what I saw at the meeting, is that more people need to engage with their local levels government, and participate. Having knowledge means having power to shape what kind of future you want in your community. Go to the website, go to the meetings, and talk to your neighbours. Most important, get out and vote, and stay informed!