2013 In Review

It’s starting to feel like the new James Bond reboot here in Tumbler Ridge.

No, it doesn’t feel like we’re accidentally being shot off a train by our own government agents, or that someone has tied us to a chair and is whacking us in the nether regions with a knotted rope. The last three Bond movies have been scene setters, we just have to do introduce Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, and then we can move on with the series. The next movie just needed to explain the new Bond’s character, and then we’ll move on with the series. Skyfall just needs to introduce M and Q and Moneypenny, and then the real adventures can begin… Something is always happening, but when you look back to where you started, well, perhaps you haven’t made quite as much progress as you might think.

It wouldn’t be a lie to say that 2013 was a transitional year for Tumbler Ridge. But so was 2012. And 2011. And 2010. And….

2013 was the year that Teck didn’t open, that HD Mining continued work on their project, that we kept waiting for a whole bunch of things to happen that we’ve been waiting to happen, and still haven’t happened.

Which is not to say that nothing at all happened. No, there were a number of big events in Tumbler Ridge, but to say that the town is now firing on all cylinders…well, that’d be an overstatement.

The Rumble on the Ridge

Back in June, Tumbler Ridge hosted the Five Star Fight Night, Rumble on the Ridge, where local fighters Phil Dufresne fought Allan McPherson (Prince George) at 265; Jason Bradley took on David Polkinghorn (Chetwynd) at 265; and Pernell Kirby (Tumbler Ridge) versed Jacob Moore (Peace River) at 160. This was both Bradley and Kirby’s first fights at this calibre, and both of them came out victorious. Aside from Grizfest, this event drew the biggest crowd of 2013. Kirby said, “Tumbler Ridge, great community, great town. They cheered us on and made our night. The way they cheered us on got us all pumped. I couldn’t even hear the ring announcer because the crowd was so loud.” A great night was had by all.

Roll over, town council

2013 saw the most by-elections in a single year by the District, with three new councillor’s elected. It also saw the potential of the town losing its mayor, as Mayor Darwin Wren ran in the MLA race, but luckily, he stuck around (which is a nice way to say he lost).

The turnover began early in the year with the now operations manager for Public Works, Doug Beale handing in his resignation of council at the end of 2013. He was replaced by Don McPherson in January. Then about half way through the year, two councillors stepped down at nearly the same time, for different reasons, so a by-election was held to nominate two new councillors. Councillor Aleen Torraville, became the District’s administrative services manager. She said at the time, “When I ran for council, I had no intention of resigning. I made the commitment when I ran to do what I could to for the District. But life happens.”

Councillor Sherri-Lynn Hewitt was the other councillor to step down in the summer.

Sworn in to finish off the last half of council’s term were Bev Litster and Chris Leggett. District council finished off 2013 with a full house as they move into the back stretch of their term.

Park Rejuvenations

You could say that 2013 was the year of the child here in Tumbler Ridge as not one but two main parks in town were renovated this year. The first one was the park down at the Lions Flatbed Campground, which was a huge celebration and accomplishment for the town. There were many sponsors who helped make it possible and the Lions club playground steering committee worked very hard to make it happen.

The second park facelift was the park down on Chamberlain. A lot of work was done down there. The old tennis courts were ripped out and a new playground was installed, including an elliptical, which is pretty neat. The next park to be renovated will be the one by the museum on the upper bench, hoped to get started as soon as possible in the New Year. However, the planned spray park, which has been on the books for the last few years, is still in the works.

The Hadrosaur comes to town

It’s taken a long time, but the famed hadrosaur was finally extricated from the rocks where it lay and brought into town. While they were working on getting the bones out, they came across a number of other bones, too, meaning that Tumbler Ridge researchers could be on to a full-fledged bone bed. It was the biggest dinosaur-related event in a year marked by a number of dinosaur related events. The hadrosaur will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit for the museum. Someday.

HD Mining/Union case dismissed

At this time last year, Tumbler Ridge was (once again) making news headlines nationally as the battle between HD Mining and a pair of unions raged in courts. But on May 21, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed the challenge brought forth by the Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union, opening the way for work to begin in earnest on Tumbler Ridge’s first underground mine and the first longwall mine in Canada in years. However, it took a few months for the company to get through all the approvals with the equipment.

However progress has been slow on the new mine. Nearly a full year after the first group of workers arrived in Tumbler Ridge, a second group arrived in October. Their job is to assemble much of the equipment used in boring the access shaft. Long story short, they expect to start drilling the bulk sample “early in the New Year.”

However, that may be in doubt as, less than two weeks before the end of the year, the United Steelworkers filed an application asking that HD Mining’s exploration permit be revoked.

Formation of an ATV club

One of the most popular outdoor activities in the north is ATVing, and, while ATVers have long claimed many areas as their own, that has always been informal. With more and more areas being lost to industrial development, though, and rumours of other areas being closed for caribou, Tumbler Ridge riders finally got organized this year. The Ridge Riders Snowmobile club, which had been mothballed a couple years ago, also came back to life, with dozens of riders signing up.

The Vision of Connecting 27 km of trail

One of the awesome things about Tumbler Ridge is all of the hiking. The WNMS is much to thank for this, due to their hard work maintaining, repairing and cutting new trails. This past summer a sort of epiphany manifested for the trail system here in Tumbler Ridge, with the brilliant idea to work towards connecting the 27 km of trail that encircles the town, hidden in the forests. The three systems include: the District trails (the linking trail, the flatbed falls trail, the Tumbler Point trail, and the trail that goes to the golf course from the point); the Wolverine trails (Kevin’s trail, the Dinosaur Tracks/Overhanging Rock Pool trail, the Flatbed Pools trail and, from the golf course, the Wolverine Cross-Country Ski system); and the user-maintained trails behind the Lion’s Flatbed campground that go up towards the point. Charles Helm for the WNMS said, “You already have 65 percent of it done. It would virtually be a marathon distance. It would be a trail that would really encircle the community. The beauty of what we are suggesting now is it is so little work. Work out where you need direction signs.” This project is underway.

Creation of RV Park at golf course

Having been put into the budget late in the game, the creation of the RV park at the golf course seemed to happen seamlessly. There were eight stalls created, and the cost came in under the allotted $100,000, leaving monies to help fix up the existing golf cart storage area. The idea behind having these stalls is to boost tourism and give visitors to the community more choice when choosing their accommodations. There will be package deals created for golf and camping in for the 2014 season.

Opening of Roman Pit

With Teck putting its decision around Quintette on hold, and court cases delaying HD Mining by months, if not years, it looked like this was the year of no news being the big news for new mines around Tumbler Ridge. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, as Anglo-American started work on its Roman Pit. There are still a few hurdles for the mine to cross before everything is officially official, but the new pit promises to extend the mine’s lifespan by a number of years.

Tumbler Ridge Geopark Submission

While Geoparks are relatively unknown in North America, elsewhere in the world, they are popular tourist draws to areas that have seen human development, like, oh, coal mines. In a short period of time, members of the Tumbler Ridge community, representing recreation, tourism, mining and the District got together to draw up the Tumbler Ridge Geopark submission, which has now been received by the International Committee. If successful, it will become only the second Geopark in North America.

Google Street View comes to town

Back in the summer, the Google Street view car came to town, a move that promised to put Tumbler Ridge, literally, on the maps. Google Maps that is. However, after waiting months and months, Tumbler Ridge users still can’t do a virtual tour of town by road, as the data collected has not yet been put onto Google’s popular map service. Currently, Street View is available for Chetwynd. You can turn onto Highway 29, but street view imaging ends at the pullout a few hundred metres from the corner.