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COMMENTARY · 3rd August 2011
Merv Ritchie
Updated 5 PM, Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Terrace Council has determined, as of the close of their meeting today, to go ahead with the demolition of the Co-op building. They have not determined what they will do with the remaining funds. The final approval will be made at the next full regular Council meeting.

See full video of debate attached below.

Original post and context for discussions.

Today at 4:00 pm, August 3, Terrace City Council will sit as an informal gathering called the ‘Committee of the Whole’. This regular meeting is for a free flowing debate and discussion of ideas but it does have an agenda and today it will be about the extra money sent to the City from the Province of BC. This money, $375,000 was delivered after the City re-built the infrastructure and the road between George Little Park and the new Housing Complex on the Old Farmers Market Grounds. It sits as a large bonus to the City and is not part of the Annual Budget. It is therefore an unallocated chunk of money the Councillors must determine, as a group, how they are going to allocate it.

The options put forward are;

1) To put ¾ of the money to demolishing the Co-op building. The City Administration states this is a good investment as it will raise the value of the property by almost half a million dollars,

2) Select a road to rebuild, there are lots in very bad shape,

3) Just leave it in the surplus fund for future road projects and for peace of mind,

4) Build an intersection on the highway as an entrance into the Airport Industrial Park site,

5) Consider a new project.

All of these options have a tax and return impact and none of the listed options include the Shames Mountain investment.

A significant project not discussed was a project the City already spent over $12,000 designing; the Grand Trunk Pathway Master Plan. See The Master Plan Here.

This seems to be a continuing problem with the Terrace City Council; a stable and determined ‘Vision’. Much money has been spent and many guests have attended sharing their knowledge and insight to assist the City of Terrace but for some unknown reason none of the knowledge seems to be absorbed or comprehended.

During the Skeena Summit hosted by TEDA (Terrace Economic Development Authority) their featured guest speaker, Roger Brooks repeatedly stated that there are industrial ghost towns in the making all over North America. He was more than blunt, he was downright insulting of those planning Industrial Parks.

Both the TEDA executive Director and the Executive Director of the Terrace Tourism Organization (Kermode Tourism) then chased away and participated in a demeaning and insulting exercise on Jamie and Shanie Schectman, a couple then from Argentina, who brought to Co-op concept to make Shames Mountain a financially viable option.

After chasing them away (leaving the entire Global Ski community with a bad impression of Terrace) the Friends of Shames adopted the Co-op plan but didn’t apply it correctly as was suggested by the BC Co-op Association.

Spending good money after bad (Shames (FoS) was a completely failed exercise, the goal was 2 million by April 1) is never a good idea. It would be interesting to know what all the other local communities and Regional Districts decided about investing in Shames. The Schectmans’ have since been developing new Ski Hills with welcoming communities.

The Grand Trunk Pathway Master Plan includes an extension of the Millenium Trail from the terminus, now at the Nisga’a Highway intersection, all the way out to Fisherman’s Park. If the Pathway was constructed with a gravel pathway instead of pavement it is likely this entire section could be completed for the amount of money the City will be debating.

Another option could be what a Councillor brought up at a previous Council meeting, fix the walking and bike lanes east of the Legion to the old Bridge. This is a common through fare for pedestrians and cyclists and is presently a disgrace. Another disgrace is the overgrown banks and ditches of weeds. Maybe the money should be spent on an attachment for the City Tractor that mounts a large industrial brush cutter. Making the City itself somewhat more attractive to visitors a visiting industrial company executive might consider setting up shop here.

Vision is what is needed. In 2008, shortly after David Pernarowski was elected as a Councillor a debate ensued over setting up the back area of the Co-op as a parking lot for large tour busses and RV’s. Lights were to be installed and lines painted for parking. Pernarowski argued against it stating he didn’t think that would be a good area to first introduce visitors to Terrace.

His mistake once again was vision. The solution was simple. Cut the weeds, paint the old gardening building and then the entire back wall of the Co-op could have been used as a canvas for “real artists’ to paint a rendition of the downtown core of Terrace with all the features for visitors to walk around and see.

Throwing good money after bad is the first rule of knowing when to quit. Shames should be left for an enterprising outsider or an insider with some business acumen. This is not something for the City and this has been argued repeatedly. The Airport Industrial Park should be left just the way the October 10, 2010 windstorm left it. The roads are a continuing yearly program; they should be left that way. Putting the money into general revenue will see it disappear and the City will lose this one time fortunate opportunity.

Looking to the future, having a vision for Terrace is what is needed here.

On April 24, 2008, the City of Terrace wrote a $12,000 cheque to the Boulevard Transportation Group for the Grand Trunk Pathway Master Plan. The plan is ready, it just needs the funding. Seems like a fairly decent fit.

The Co-op should definitely be torn down. And in its place could be a great new functional park. Apparently the area was originally swamp land. If a proper large drain was placed in the center and the land was contoured, sloping into the center of this large property, a water park for the Children could be quickly and inexpensively installed. Then when Terrace enjoys one if its frequent flash fall or spring floods the drain in the center could serve two purposes. And the extra hundred thou might just cover this. As the demolition contract already specifies backfilling a simple change to how it is backfilled wouldn’t add much to the cost.

Two options are getting our vote. The Pathways and the Co-op demolition.
Making Room
Comment by Ed on 5th August 2011
There's allways lots of ideas and plans when it comes to deciding where to spend money for Terrace. I think that you have to make room for new growth. Tear the co-op down and make room for something better.
OK Merv
Comment by Dr. B. A. Bidgood on 4th August 2011
I am pretty sure that I don't sound like that. Check the audio track....something messed up. Must have been the fumes.