New Interpretive Walking Route proposed for downtown

Trent Ernst, Editor


Tumbler Ridge is a very foot friendly community. So why don’t we have a walking tour of Tumbler Ridge?

That’s the question behind a new initiative being brought forward by the Tumbler Ridge Healthy Community Committee.

Last year, says Birgit Sharman, one of the members of that committee, they brought in Tommy Europe and Dr. Art Hister. This year, they are pursuing a grant to create a walking tour around Tumbler Ridge. The idea, says Sharman, is to work on branding and theming Tumbler Ridge around the Geopark.

She says she was approached by Dr. Charles Helm who had scribbled the idea down on a piece of paper. Rather than just having a brochure with the popular Tumbler Ridge sites, she is proposing dinosaur footprints that can be followed. She envisions resin footprints leading the way, not yellow spray paint or anything tacky.

The route would have to be wheelchair and stroller accessible to qualify for the $75,000 grant. “The route would start at VIC, which is ground zero for information on all the activities around Tumbler Ridge,” she says. Rather than a sidewalk, the committee is suggesting a rock path made from rocks around town, as well as a rock garden with stones from the Boulder Gardens.

Across the street, visitors will find Hartford Gardens and the Railroad Museum says Sharman. From there, a walk across the parking lot takes them to the shovel, which they have proposed as a new mining display area. She says all the mines have expressed interest in setting up something there. For instance, the old Bullmoose Operating Corp. sign, or a set of haul truck tires, one as a sand pit, the other mounted vertically to give people a sense of their size. Right beside the shovel is a park there with picnic tables and a view across to town hall.

Behind town hall is the outdoor recreation area, as well as a forest area where they are talking to the Community Forest to create a little interpretive trail. Beside town hall is the cenotaph, where they are talking about a possible plaque to honour the World War II veterans whose names are on the peaks and streets.

Next to the cenotaph, says Sharman, is the police station, where visitors will find Joan Zimmer’s painting on the electrical box, as well as the police station and firehall. These two buildings are blank canvases, she says. There’s the possibility of displays that honour the work of emergency services in town. For instance, she says, something about the 2006 hourglass fire on the Fire Station.

Crossing the street is AngloAmerican’s offices, where there are already images celebrating mining in Tumbler Ridge. Across the parking lot is Shop Easy, with its West Coast art. Across the street, is the Community Centre with all of its attendant activities, and across from there is “a big empty wall, just crying out for something on it.”

Sharman says the Roman Walkway has the potential for interpretive signs and other development, as does the Health Centre, the pool wall, and Northern Lights College, which all have the potential for paintings or photos or other displays. From there, the route would return back to the Visitor Centre.

Councillor Kirby says it’s a great idea. “We forget that we have all this already here,” she says.

Councillor Mackay says he likes the idea. It falls in line with the community that we want to see. He suggests some of the funding opportunities, like the downtown facade improvement through NDIT could align with this.

Councillor Howe agrees this is the sort of idea that Council wants to see. He asks what Community involvement is there. He says he doesn’t want to see the West Coast art on the side of Shop Easy go, as it’s been there from day one. Sharman says nothing is set in stone yet, and they want to get the community involved. “The route changes four times in a week, so…”

Councillor Caisley says he hasn’t heard as many constructive ideas for the downtown core in a long, long time. “I think it’s a first class outline and fits in with everything we’re trying to do.”