Editorial: Signs of the end

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

And just like that, another year is over. Or as close to as to make no difference.

And, let’s face it, if there’s any year we’d want done early, it’s this year.

This year was the year that Tumbler Ridge saw coal leave. For the second time.

This time about, though, there’s no housing sale to save the town, because most people own their own houses.

For the town, that’s a good thing. The last time this happened, people could just sell their houses back to the mines and leave.

Now, however, most people own their own homes and there is no buyback clause. If you want to leave, you’ll have to sell your home on the open market and baby, does the market stink right now.

And that’s the trouble. While the fact that people can’t just pick up and run for greener pastures is good for the town, it’s bad for those people who find themselves trapped in limbo. No job means no money. No money means no way to buy food. To buy gas. To pay the bills.

There’s a whole whack of people who have been able to find jobs out of town, going to work for a week, two weeks, three weeks at a time in a camp job, or in the forestry industry, or in oil and gas.

And when that job is done, they come back to Tumbler Ridge, to the place that has become home for them.

Which is funny, because wasn’t it just a year or so ago that we were cursing the people who did the same thing, except for them, Tumbler Ridge was the camp job? They’d buy their food out of town, then come here and stay at an apartment they’d rent from someone who doesn’t even live here.

Which just goes to show you that quite often whether something is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perception. Hopefully, our experience on this side of the fence will give us perspective and understanding when we’re back on that side of the fence again.

While we applaud Anglo for giving their workers a few months notice, unlike others who shall remain nameless, coughwaltercough, a pink slip is not exactly the best Christmas present one could ask for. But when is a good time to lay off 300 people?

At the same time this is happening, the Murray River project is about 700 meters down as they dig the decline for their bulk sample. A recent piece in the Tyee lambasted the BC Government and HD Mining for having the gall to employ 200 temporary foreign workers here, when “up to 70 percent of the population” is out of work. Never mind that the actual number is less than 50.

Over on that font of all wisdom, Facebook, the issue inspired one poster to say the Chinese workers “ should have been run out before they even started work.”

Which brings us full circle. Because if we say “Canadian jobs for Canadian workers,” do we then say “British Columbian jobs for British Columbian workers?” Because there are far more Albertans coming across the boundary that separates us from them and stealing our jobs in the oil patch.

Or how about Tumbler Ridge jobs for Tumbler Ridgians.

But then, what about those people who are leaving Tumbler Ridge to get jobs elsewhere? What right do we have to complain if they get displaced, if they get cursed for going outside of Tumbler Ridge to steal jobs from locals?

It’s a thorny, complicated issue, yes. But when the conversation descends into jingoism, we’ve lost sight of the fact that nearly everybody here comes from someplace else. And yes, we want gainful employment for the people who work here, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt, and I hope that we pull together, rather than going all Lord of The Flies on each other.