Thrift Store will be closing

Thrift Store will be closing

Unless there is some intervention, or organizers can find an equivalent 3,000 to 4,000 foot space for its operation, the Thrift Store will be shutting down its operation at the end of September. In a letter from the District posted at ShopEasy, notice is given to cease operations as of February 2007, but it appears that the Thrift Store will be closing four months early. The closure will also impact negatively on services such as the Christmas Hamper program, which is one of the public service programs run out of that facility.

The Thrift Store is currently located in Claude Galibois School, in the upper bench, which is not zoned commercial. The operations of the Thrift Store and the Flyer Delivery Service are commercial enterprises and as such are not in compliance with District Bylaws.

The school is zoned as Public P1, and under current regulations the bylaw states that the property can be used for an Airport, Boat Launching, Cemetery, Government buildings and work yards, municipal buildings and parks, public utility buildings and recreation, a sanitary landfill, schools, heliport, landfill incinerator, and veterinary clinic.

Looking at the current land usage that might go into that area, residents might ask themselves if a landfill incinerator or a sanitary landfill is something that would be desirable, or if it would substantially erode property values. If a public works yard occupied the land that the school sits on, would we welcome heavy equipment and chain link fencing in our back yards? We do not have those facilities in our neighborhoods, but the bylaws state that we could.

Perhaps it is time to have a closer look at changing our bylaws to better reflect the needs of the community.

Tumbler Ridge has changed considerably since the days that the only game in town was mining and businesses associated with that industry. At that time all but a handful of houses were owned by the companies, and with the majority of residents renting, there was little if any interest in property values or municipal politics. Now we are a community like any other, with individuals owning their own property. Our population has changed over several times in the past few years, and it is likely to do so again as the town grows and evolves.

We may need to take a look at bylaws enacted 16 or 25 years ago and decide if they actually meet the needs of residents. If they do not, then can they be brought to the public for a decision? It is after all your property values, your needs as residents, and your tax payer dollars that should weigh in here. My understanding is that in order to change a bylaw land use that it must go before the public. Let the public have a voice then, and make that decision about what we should or should not allow in our residential zones. It should not be up to the minority to make those kinds of decisions for all the property owners in the community. If we look at Claude Galibois School we must ask ourselves what are the long term repercussions of changing the zoning from school to commercial, and what limits would be put on that zoning. As it stands right now it would appear that the dump could move its current location to our backyards and residents would be unable to protest. That may not be likely but closer looks at the bylaws as they stand are dismaying.

In documents posted at Shop Easy, an appeal is being made to the public to come forward and sign a petition to reconsider the closure. The petition asks for a rezoning to P1-A which allows for service clubs. That is a registered, non-profit society which meets and raises funds for community projects. The petition states that under that umbrella is the Thrift Store, Tax Services and Artists studios and Coronation College. No mention is made of the Flyer Delivery Service on this document.

The notice thanks the community for their support over the past five plus years, providing 176 Christmas Hampers $23,125.28; Emergency outreach $21,985.64; Family income for staff and carriers $53,427.14; 65 orphans in Kenya $2100; and rent of $43,200.

There has been considerable concern expressed regarding the cutting of another essential service (the Thrift Store) which is perceived to meet a real need in the community. Comments on the Thrift Store can be sent to this newspaper at mail@tumblerridgenews.com and can also be directed to Mayor and Council at Town Hall.