Letter to Mayor and Council, August 13, 2006

P.O. Box 895 Tumbler Ridge, BC VOC 2WO

Mayor and Council

Tumbler Ridge, BCAugust 13, 2006

Dear Mayor and Council:

I sat in the public gallery at the Committee of the Whole meeting on August 8th and listened to the debate on the request by the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation to remove the top of the berm that runs beside the Museum so that murals that are soon to adorn the side of the building will be more readily visible to the public. I wish to address the negative comments made by some Councilors and Senior Staff over the proposal.

I heard the comment that Tumbler Ridge is a planned community and the berms around town were built for a purpose – to shield the residential areas from traffic noise, and In the case of the Commercial Park, to contain the noise from the Park. When it was pointed out that there is no development facing the Park from which to shield the noise, the reply was made that, well, ?Some residents like to walk or run past the Commercial Park.? Pardon me for a moment whilst I bang my head on the table. The people who run or walk past a Commercial Park are expecting peace and tranquility from such a place? Oh, please give me peace and tranquility at 6 am on a winter?s morn when the diesel trucks down my street fire up and sit idling for an hour before their owners drive off to work! Can I have a berm of my own?

It was disappointing to hear the comment from CAO Miller that part of the reasoning for his recommendation against the proposal was ?based on a gut feeling.? We are told that the Museum is willing to pay the entire cost of shaving off the top of the berm and when the Museum moves away in a few years to a grander emporium of its own, it will replace the berm. Is Mr. Miller concerned that the District may be left ?holding the bag? If the Museum quietly packs up In the middle of the night and sneaks away without replacing the berm? I have gotten to know most of the personalities involved with the Museum and wish to assure him that they aren?t the shifty-eyed miscreants that maybe he perceives them to be.

Well, not all of them, anyway. And I was saddened to hear the comment about ?not wanting to set a precedent? by allowing the proposal to go ahead. The often voiced concern over not wanting to set precedents Is, in my opinion, largely a lazy response by authorities not wishing to address the desire for change. In most cases, proposals that have merit can be allowed to go ahead with or without setting precedents. In any case, if another business In Tumbler Ridge wishes to beautify its building and also make it more visible to the public – and is willing to pay the entire of doing so – is that a bad precedent to follow?

Councilor Sipe remarked that because the building was parallel to the road, people driving by would have to turn their heads to look at the murals. Ergo, he was voting nay. Pardon me once again for a moment while 1 resume banging my head on the table .People driving by would have to turn their heads? Oh, calamity!

In my opinion, probably the only voiced concern that had any merit was Councilor Holmlund?s observation that the Commercial Park was a mess and removing the berm would expose that mess even more. 1 agree, the Park is not one of Tumbler Ridge?s beauty spots. But – and this is a big ?but? – the Museum is at least doing something to change that. The transformation that the Museum has wrought so far on an ordinary metal-sided commercial building is remarkable, and there is more yet to come. Already we are told that the owner of the ugly tall green building abutting the Museum Is talking about re-siding it. Just possibly these changes might encourage the other denizens of the Commercial Park to take a critical look at their own premises and do something about them.

The main impression that I came away with after listening to the debate was that the Museum?s proposal involved change and that made some Councilors uncomfortable. Yes, Tumbler Ridge was built as a planned community. But that was twenty-five years ago when Tumbler Ridge was planned as a coal mining town. Since the coal mines closed, we have heard so many times the mantra, ?We must no longer rely on a single industry to support the town. We must diversify the economy.? With the dinosaur discoveries and the concomitant publicity that the Museum Foundation has generated around the world, the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation is arguably the only organization so far that has actually done something towards diversifying the economy. And Town Council must embrace change and help the Museum make its presence more visible to the public. Even if It means that they have to turn their heads.

I remain, as always,

You?re most humble and unworthy servant

cc: Dr. Charles Heim, President, TRMF