Trent Ernst, Editor
Since being diagnosed with type II diabetes, I’ve managed to lose about 30 lbs.
This means that my clothes are no longer fitting quite as snugly as they used to.
In fact, I can get most of my pants on and off without having to unbutton them first.
While this is a good thing, throughout much of history, the concept of tightening ones belt was not a good thing, but a sign that times were tough.
In Tumbler Ridge, there has been plenty of belt tightening going around recently.
Finning, once out in the light industrial area, has had to tighten their belts. They’ve left their building behind and have moved into town, occupying a small office here in town.
Even the Tumbler Ridge news is feeling the pinch. Remember that office that Finning is occupying? That used to be our space, but with it becoming more difficult to afford the lease, we’ve rented out that half of the building.
This means if you’re looking for our office, you’ll have to enter from the Main Street side, across from the Liquor store.
Some businesses haven’t survived, and the downtown core is littered with empty office spaces that were full just a year ago.
In fact, looking across the street from the door of the News, I can see where Vinnie’s used to be. That closed down before the mines, but the former Duck Stop Restaurant wasn’t able to make a go of it once the mines shut down. Nor was Alpha Fire and Safety next door. The last door along that row is where Re/Max used to be. While they closed down for different reasons entirely, there’s a good chance that it would not be there, either.
Across the street and around the corner, two other offices sit empty. The former Country Lane Creations and the former hair salon next door, both victims to an economy that has almost come to a complete stop since the mines closed down.
Tumbler Ridge has always had a lean downtown core, even in its heyday. Losing one or two businesses from downtown is a huge hit to the local economy, and a huge inconvenience for people who depended on these businesses and services.
There are people in this town who are not able to afford the gas to go to Dawson to go shopping, no matter how much cheaper the prices might be there, how much bigger the selection is, so they stay here and try and get by with the limited resources at their disposal.
Everyone is tightening their belts, trying to make it by, trying to make it through until the bright spot on the horizon materializes: into a new mine, or maybe a job working at the new wind farm being developed. (According to Borea, they were hoping to start hiring this week.)
For now, though, a year since the closure of Wolverine, three months after the idling of Peace River Coal, things are lean, and they promise to get leaner over the next few months, as parents who were just waiting until the end of the school year decide to leave. As people who have been scraping by on unemployment come to the end of their benefits.
And with the price of coal slipping even further in the last few months it puts the restart of any of the local mines just that much farther into the future.
Which means it might be time to cut another notch in the belt, metaphorically speaking.