Trent Ernst, Editor
This weekend was thanksgiving.
For many people in town, it was the first time in a few years that they were able to celebrate the holiday. After two years without work, they were finally employed. Finally working, finally bringing in a paycheque.
Which is great news for the town and for the 80 some odd people who are working (or will be working) at Brule.
Still, it is a pittance, compared to the numbers that were working here a couple years ago.
Or is it? Back then, many, if not the majority of employees were from out of town. I talked to people who flew in from Vancouver, worked for their seven days, then flew back home.
People who worked in the mines drove in from Prince George, from Grande Prairie, from Mackenzie.
Indeed, one wonders, with the people who have been hired on to work at Site C, with the people who are working at Mount Milligan and other mines scattered about the north, with the people who are working at the wind projects, how the economy actually compares to what it was a couple years ago.
Houses are starting to sell again, either speculatively, or people making a commitment to the town. While we’ve lost a couple businesses, most notably Shell, the remainder have managed to weather the storm, despite a projected 85 percent drop in income over the last few years.
That, too, is something to be thankful for. While there are a number of businesses that have been boarded up or at least shut down, many still remain. Shop Easy, Ace Hardware … even Lake View, despite the reduced hours, is still in town. They could have just picked up and buggered off like the Royal Bank did 15 years ago, but they stayed, and our town is the better for it.
The Chamber of Commerce has about 90 groups and organizations as members.
Most of those are small businesses and groups. Many one or two people operations. Some are just individuals who believe that we are made better by standing together.
The Chamber forms the backbone of this town and, like a backbone, is built of its constituent parts, the small businesses.
While the Chamber has had its ups and its downs over the last twenty years, it’s currently an organization in ascendancy, building strength on strength, and becoming a major factor in driving this community forward, and it’s something the town should be thankful for, too.
Many of the members of the Chamber are not businesses but clubs and organizations, and as a town, we should be thankful for their involvement, too.
The Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society, The Grizzly Vally ATV Club, The Geopark … these groups have worked hard to make this community better than in was the day before, and much of what is interesting and exciting and important that happens here is not footprints left behind by industrial giants, but the slow, steady impact of hundreds of volunteers going out and actively seeking to improve things.
This year the Chamber, in concert with the Government of BC and the ATV club, put together a Job Creation Program. The program came to an end last week, leaving behind not just new tools for volunteer groups, not just a dozen people with new skills and training, but a new trail along the top of the ridge above town, a new picnic shelter at Moose Lake and improvements to a number of trails in the area. As someone who loves getting out an exploring, I am especially thankful for these new routes.
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