Editorial: A Return to Spring

Trent Ernst, Editor

This coming weekend marks the start of the Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year. While it might be a while yet before that whole spring thing makes it up north to where we are, spring is often a time for a cleaning out of the old and the start of new projects.

While the year starts January 1 here in North America, spring seems to be a much more appropriate time to start the new year, because it is the time that things are renewed. Windows are opened and fresh air is let in. The detritus of the previous year is cleaned up and sent out, either to the trash or to the annual garage sale. Seeds are planted and take root.

While it’s a little early in the year, I’m already seeing seeds taking root. If they do, it promises to be an exciting time in the next year.

The seeds I refer to are the seeds of society, or rather, societies. After a few years wandering through the wilderness, the TR Ridge Riders Snowmobile club (and yes, I know that would technically be the Tumbler Ridge Ridge Riders…) is back up and running. A recent email from club president Adam Court says the club has not lost its society status, the groomer is up and running (though in need of repairs), the membership books are in and they’ve started work on getting tenure on the trails. The website has been updated and a new email (trridgeriders@hotmail.com) has been set up.

While I might quibble over the last one (Hotmail? Really? How 1997), the fact that things are moving forward can’t be denied, especially since there’s only been one meeting so far.

There was talk at that one meeting about getting ATVers involved, but there are a number of problems with that scenario, and while it is possible, it looks like the club’s focus will just be on sledding. Spurred by the success of the Ridge Riders, a group of ATVers got together last week with an eye towards forming a club of their own

If it were to come to pass that an ATV club was to form in addition to the Snowmobile Club that would be a triumph. ATVers tend to be individualists and resist joining clubs. “I can ride where ever I want,” has been a common refrain around here. But I’ve talked to ATVers across this country and they said the same thing too…right up until they couldn’t. Having a club to advocate to the Municipality, to the Regional District, to the Province, is a good thing.

And then there’s the Chamber of Commerce, which is now up and running. Or rather, taking its first few tentative steps towards becoming the voice of business in Tumbler Ridge. Yes, I know the long and sordid history of the Tumbler Ridge Chamber of Commerce. I shouldn’t even use those words out loud because every time I do, someone is going to tell stories of previous litigations, of previous chamber president’s being chased by the police through the Bullmoose Coal piles. It was exciting, and dysfunctional.

The new chamber promises to be a much more functional and sedate organization, and yes, maybe I am just saying that because I’m helping get it up and running.

Why do I care about snowmobile clubs? I don’t ride a snowmobile. Or ATV clubs, as I don’t own an ATV? Or the Chamber of Commerce, since I don’t own a business (oh, wait, yes. I do. Eye For Detail Photography. Photography, for Life. www.eyefordetailphotos.com.)

A couple years ago, I was working as Tourism Coordinator for the District of Tumbler Ridge. One of the things that I tried to do was to bring various groups to the table to discuss tourism initiatives moving forward.

The trouble was, the only group at the table was the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society. Why? Because that was really the only outdoor group that was up and running at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am a WNMS member, and love me some self-propelled outdoor adventure. But Charles can’t really comment on what needs to be done to improve infrastructure for snowmobiling in Tumbler Ridge. The newly reformed Ridge Riders? They can.

I know that tourism isn’t going to save Tumbler Ridge if all the mines currently operating were to shut down, and all the mines working towards starting up were to decide to mothball their projects. But looking back ten years? It was one of the only bright spots in an otherwise dark time for the town. And we can’t simply abandon it to run back to mother coal.

So, yes, I am excited to see these new clubs forming, to see a new Chamber. Because more than diversity, it means that people are starting to care. That maybe Tumbler Ridge isn’t just a place where people come to work, but a place where people are starting to come to live.