A deafening cheer might have been heard on Friday, March 18th, as news of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation?s restriction on down payments of 15-20% was lifted. The ban has been in place since the inception of Tumbler Ridge in 1982. Mayor Clay Iles has worked extremely hard over the past three years to see the red flag status finally change. Mayor Iles stated, ?We had to convince CMHC that we?re not just a one industry town. That is why they had a restriction on housing since the very beginning.? He added, ?Now our mortgages will be 5%; identical to everyone else in the country.? Mayor Iles contends that people involved in making this happen were on CMHC?s case constantly, with assistance from Jay Hill in Ottawa, to bring attention to the sitting party. Mayor Iles has had many meetings with CMHC both in person, and by telephone.

On Monday CMHC will be posting an official news release on the status of restriction for Tumbler Ridge. At press time, there was no sign of early postings on their website, however the news reached Town Hall on Friday morning at 10:30 am from CMHC during a conference call. Attending the call were Mayor Iles, Councillors Don McPherson and Pernell Kirby, Economic Development Officer Ray Proulx and Administrator Nigel Black.

Also expected to have a major impact on Tumbler Ridge are programs like the Royal Bank?s Home Line plan which can be used to make renovations using the equity built up by the homeowner. That program was previously unavailable to Tumbler Ridge residents. The Lake View Credit Union in Tumbler Ridge did offer alternatives to home owners in spite of the CMHC restrictions.

Reaction from the realty brokerages in town was extremely positive, of course. Karen Meyer, realtor for Cascade Realty was ecstatic. ?It was?.? she paused to measure her words and then abandoning all caution, continued. ?The sky?s the limit! Just like Christmastime!? Meyer adds that this will create a bigger market potential. It has been very difficult for buyers due to the fact that the down payment has always been 15-20%. ?Now people coming into town to purchase homes will at least be in the ballpark.? said Meyer.

Realtor Brenda Banham, who works out of her Tumbler Ridge home office, is employed by Dawson Creek Realty where the main office is located. Banham started out as an unlicensed realtor for Tumbler Ridge Housing in June of 2000. Because the company was a marketing firm rather than realty company, she was not required to be licensed. She has since become licensed and has those years of first-hand experience as well. She feels that even though the selling of houses in Tumbler Ridge prior to the announcement was still feasible, this change will bring a mass amount of solidity to the town. ?I?ve always believed in the progress of this town. CMHC now recognizes us and this makes the rest of the world see that we are a stable community.? Further, she says that CMHC?s restriction was a stumbling block for financing only in the very beginning, but people had effectively gotten around that in varying ways. ?This is fantastic news. The town has been working hard for it for a long time now.?

Managing broker for Tumbler Ridge Realty, Peter Thompson was enroute to Beaverlodge when he got a call from Economic Development Officer Ray Proulx. Equally excited, Thompson said via the phone, ?This is the best news Tumbler Ridge has had in years. It is fantastic for the housing market and will have a significant impact.? Thompson has been expecting the confirmation on this, as was reported in a previous article in this newspaper. Thompson, sounding as if he wished he were here in town on this day, ?I?ll be home Sunday and on Monday, I?ll be ready to sell some houses.?