A research team led by David Bruce, Director of the Rural and Small Town Programme at Mount Allison University, conducted a survey in partnership with UNBC?s Geography Program to compare the availability of various communication tools in Tumbler Ridge with those found in other rural and small town sites across Canada. The findings have recently been released.
The study was part of the Initiative on the New Economy (INE) project being undertaken by the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. Research is being conducted in 22 rural and small town sites across Canada, including eight sites in Western Canada. Data on a range of communication tools, including television, Internet, newspapers, community newsletters, radio stations, and bulletin boards, and interpersonal communication (gathering places, events, meetings) was collected.
Communication is an important part of how a community works. It plays a key role in maintaining a community?s social network by, for instance, supporting residents, community development, and business development during social and economic restructuring.
Additionally, communication services can help to influence change by building upon a connection of trust that links various members of a community. Improved communication infrastructure, including telephone and Internet service, can support local business networks and attract businesses that no longer have to locate in larger centres. Newspapers can keep residents informed about local events, opportunities, and changes. Other forms of communication can help residents establish and maintain contact with family and friends.
The survey has shown that, generally Tumbler Ridge has good communication tools. The study points to good internet connectivity (though PRIS?s DSL and dial-up services), as well as public access terminals at the Libray. Access to the internet, says the study, means the businesses and residents of Tumbler Ridge can market to a global economy. It also means residents have access to university transfer course and continuing education courses on-line.
Another important, informal way folks in Tumbler Ridge exchange information on events, services and items for sale or trade is billboards. The average number of messages posted, particularly for community events, commercial postings, and informal economy postings, is much higher in Tumbler Ridge when compared to the national average, although the study shows that we have slightly fewer bulletin boards.
Overall, Tumbler Ridge has a solid foundation of communication services that play a key role in building partnerships and networks between businesses, volunteer organizations, and residents.