The Year in Review: Tumbler Ridge 2012

By Trent Ernst, Editor
 
There’s an old saying, which many claim is an old Chinese proverb, that goes “May you live in interesting times.”
 
The saying is considered a curse, the implication being that “interesting times” are times of upheaval and strife. While the phrase in not, in fact, either Chinese or all that old (dating back less than 100 years), the past twelve months have been very interesting here in Tumbler Ridge. 
 
Oddly enough, the Chinese had a lot to do with that, too. 
 
So without any further ado, we present the Tumbler Ridge Annual Year in Review.
 
January 
 
Our year began with a look back at the close of the previous year. Specifically, the winner of the annual Lake View Credit Union draw. On January 9, Jan and Dean Turner formally christened their store, once known as Jade True Value, TRU Hardware.
 
There were reports and sightings of a coyote in and around the downtown core, and residents were asked to make sure they didn’t do anything that would attract coyotes. 
 
January 26-29 saw Mardi Gras come to Tumbler Ridge, or at least, a Mardi Gras themed winter carnival, with a northern take on Mardi Gras. Less flashing and more ice carving. A good time was had by all.  
 
A half dozen Junior curlers from Tumbler Ridge went to the Draw to the Button contest at the Grande Slam competition in Dawson Creek, and the TR Museum received over a quarter million in grant funding from the Government of Canada. 
 
February
 
Trent Ernst took over as editor of the Tumbler Ridge news, filling a position that had been vacant for a few months. And there was much rejoicing. His first story in his role as editor was about the Tumbler Ridge Wind Project, which made news a number of times during the year. In February, the project, which had been put on hold for six months, re-entered the environmental assessment process. The project cleared its environmental review and was granted an EA certificate a few months later, but the embattled Finavera had financial woes and work has not yet begun on the project. 
 
The abnormally warm weather continued, and on February 3 we took a photo of Kevin Slaney out for a walk in his shorts. While the warm weather was nice, the constant thawing and freezing proved to be hard on the golf course where Slaney works and the early part of the season was spent trying to revive the grass in many areas of the course. While it was hard on the grass, it was easy on the animals, which didn’t have to work so hard to find food. 
 
On February 6, the first bases arrived for the Quality Wind Project. The warm weather also played havoc with their shipping schedule, as 19 bases were supposed to make it to the project ahead of schedule. But only the first three bases made it into Alberta before thaw bans went into effect. 
 
The 2011 Census population count came out in February, showing the official population of town was 2710. Former EDO and long-time resident Ray Proulx, now Community Liaison officer for Teck said he wasn’t surprised. “Census has historically under-counted here in Tumbler Ridge. Their census collection techniques don’t work well within a mining town where people do shift work.”The low population count continues to be a point of concern as funding for health care and protective services is based on census data. Dr. Helm appeared before council to discuss the issues the Health Centre is facing and the problems of the low census count.
 
SD 59 asked the public to weigh in on the idea of a balanced school calendar, which would see the traditional two-month summer break broken up into a series of smaller, more frequent breaks across the year. The idea was roundly rejected. 
 
March
 
Tumbler Ridge teachers walked off the job for three days in early March, protesting the lack of movement in their negotiations with the government. It was the only job action they were able to take as the government It was the only job action they were able to take as the government passed legislation restricting their right to take any sort of job actions. 
 
After a series of accidents, Ledcor was asked to leave the Peace River Coal site, where they had been doing piecemeal work for Anglo American since 2009. 
 
In March we discovered that Gene Paul Hooks was arrested in Shaunovan after three years on the run from the law. The fugitive spent about a year in Tumbler Ridge, using the alias James Garza. Garza stole money and tools from a variety of individuals and businesses before skipping town. 
 
Katie Lehmann began her bras for cancer campaign, with the hopes of collecting enough bras to stretch from here to Dawson Creek. The group is hoping to have enough bras by this summer, but is still looking for donations. 
 
March was also cancer awareness month where we met a number of Tumbler Ridge residents dealing with cancer, either having survived it in the past, or dealing with it in the present. One of our feature interviews was with Eric Mueller, who passed away a short time after our interview.
 
The Tumbler Ridge Employment Needs Development Services Office closed at the end of March after eleven years, leaving job seekers with little on-the-ground help. The closest Employment Needs office is now in Dawson Creek or Chetwynd.
 
In mining news, Xstrata bought the Sukunka deposit for half a billion (with a b), adding to their assets in the Sukunka area. Shortly after doing so, they sold 25 percent of their assets to Nippon Oil and Energy. We also had a chance to talk with former Tumbler resident Michael Hunter, who is now president and CEO of Cardero Resources.
 
Candie Laporte was sworn in as the new CFO on March 19, filling the position that had been open for nearly half a year.
 
It was also in March that we noticed that Rock 101.1 CFMI had disappeared from the radio. The station was one of the first things to be broadcast in Tumbler Ridge, as a rebroadcasting agreement between CFMI and the Tumbler Ridge Television Society. As new companies have swallowed up the old and the focus changed from over-the-air broadcasting to cable, the station finally got lost in the shuffle. 
 
Near the end of the month, the District held its by-annual open house to discuss the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw. 
 
The federal budget came down in March, and it was announced the penny would no longer be distributed. The last penny was minted in May, and the government plans to begin collecting their pennies starting in February of next year.
 
April
 
In April we discussed how the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC are no longer accepting the credentials of doctors who are international graduates, unless they were trained in the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. As nearly all the doctors that have ever practiced in Tumbler Ridge have been from South Africa, it may spell disaster for Tumbler. 
It was also in April that Finavera received their Environmental Assessment Certificate for the Tumbler Ridge Wind Project. 
 
In April, we talked about the provincial government’s new Provincial Nominee Program and the whole foreign worker concept in general, little knowing how much controversy would surround Tumbler and Temporary Foreign Workers. 
 
Long-time resident Donna Mandaville and husband Bob left. Before she did, she made a final report to council from her role as seniors’ centre coordinator. 
 
In April, the ice came out of the community centre and off the skatepark, signaling the start of spring. Spring actually took the suggestion and, despite a few setbacks, turned into one of the nicest years on record. Which was a good thing for people out looking for exercise, as the pool was closed for much of April for annual maintenance and, for the first time since it was built, professional regrouting. 
 
By mid-April, the Grant in Aid discussions were underway for the District’s budgeting process. Over half a million was granted to a variety of organizations in the community, the lion’s share of which was the library (which has since become a municipal library and a line item in the District’s budget) and the Museum (which has not). 
 
Teck opened their new office April 18, though it took a few more days for them to finish moving in. Ian Kilgour, Teck’s Vice President of Coal was in town to cut the ribbon. 

The Community Access Program was axed in April, meaning the library will need to look elsewhere for funding for computers and internet services. However, the local Northern Lights College branch was spared from a round of cuts that affected most of the other campuses. 
 
April also saw Northern Lights College and Peace River Coal test out a new program called Mother’s to Miners. The innovative program was just starting to pick up steam when it was axed midway through the year.  
 
One of the highlights of the month was Grizzly Valley Players’ Titanic—100 Years. The group is best known for lighthearted entertainment, but showed their dramatic side with this presentation. 
 
May
 
By the start of May, spring had arrived in full force. Some folks even spent the first weekend camping down at Flatbed, even though the campsite wasn’t officially opened. However, the party got out of hand and they caused much havoc and damage. 
 
Charles Helm and Rose Colledge received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals for their work in developing and building Tumbler Ridge. 
 
The Tumbler Ridge area saw its second forest fire of the year, when a helicopter blew an engine while hovering above Sanctuary Valley. The helicopter was fine, but some burning material fell into the brush and grass, starting a blaze that took about 11 hours to put out. 
 
Less than a month after featuring him in an article about his struggles with cancer, Tumbler Ridge bid Auf Wiedersehn to Eric Mueller. 
 
After nearly a year, Gwillim Lake Provincial Park re-opened with a bridge spanning the Gwillim River instead of a culvert. The hope is the new bridge will not trap debris during flood events like the culvert did. 
 
In May, the budget was finally passed and district workers began mobilizing to complete all the tasks laid before them. While much was accomplished this year, much was not. A heated storage bay for emergency services storage was in the works, but later rejected as being too expensive. $100,000 was earmarked for boat launch improvements, but the launch itself is still in poor repair. Some of the big ticket items accomplished include a new command car for the fire department, the new outdoor arena and toboggan hill, the tennis courts were resurfaced, and a Dryotron was installed at the pool. An aqua climbing wall for the pool is still “on its way”, but probably won’t be installed until early this year. 
 
While it was discovered in 2006, the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology featured a new species of coelacanth on the cover. The Rebellatrix was discovered by Sheena Walkley and the cover story brought international attention to Tumbler Ridge.
 
On May 14, the first wind tower base was raised at the Quality Wind Project. Construction continued throughout the summer, and the Wind Project went live in October. 
 
June
 
One of our most popular photos of the year was when a mother duck and her nine ducklings wandered past the Tumbler Ridge News office. Can’t we all just say Awww?
 
Tumbler Ridge was allotted $1.5-million as part of the fair share program. 
 
Work continued on the Quality Wind Project. A landmark was reached as the Murray River crossing, a 1.5 km free span over the river, was made. 
 
By mid-May, the rental crunch was in full swing, and some raconteur posted a photo of trailers stacked one atop another with the headline “The year is 2014, the town is Tumbler Ridge, BC. Is this our Future?” 
 
Dustin Curry became the first firefighter in over a decade to be promoted to Lieutenant. 
 
The TR Library board held a public meeting for comment on its plan to transition from a public library to a municipal board. While the library would maintain its autonomy, the big change would be it would no longer need to go through the Grant-in-Aid process, but become a line item in the District’s budget, ensuring a more stable source of funding. 
 
A woman died in Hudson Hope, and at least part of the blame was laid on the fact that the Hudson Hope ambulance was here in Tumbler Ridge. It caused a lot of discussion about the troubles facing the Ambulance service, but unfortunately, it didn’t cause a rush of people to volunteer for the Ambulance. 
 
June also brought to an end the school year. The TR Grad class became only the second TR Grad class to have a truly dry grad. 
 
On June 22, one of the most unique events in Tumbler’s history happened, when Capital Power invited the community to come sign one of it’s turbine blades. And people showed up. In droves. 
 
Another “never happened before” event took place out at Kinuseo Falls when director Sergey Bodrov broughtactor Ben Barnes and a crew of dozens out to film scenes for the upcoming movie Seventh Son.
 
July and August
 
Grizfest. Emperor’s Challenge. A show and shine. Summer was the time for big ticket events in town. It was also a time for a rash of break-ins  and damage in and around the community centre, including someone damaging the Children’s Centre’s van right before the Grizfest parade. 
 
Summer also saw the Tumbler Ridge News’ first Geocache Challenge. A lot of people had a lot of fun getting out and exploring the Tumble Ridge area. 
 
Rob Mackay sold Tumbler Ridge Building Supplies to Jan and Dean Turner. The lumber yard is still going strong, just now under the TRU banner. 
 
There was a rather horrific single vehicle crash that took out the light standard on Monkman Way and tossed the driver from his vehicle. Thankfully, while the damages were extensive (the lights still aren’t up) the injuries were not as bad as they could have been. 
 
It took two tries, but the Bergeron Falls bridge finally was put into place. The large metal structure had to be flown in by helicopter and put into place by volunteers on the ground. 
And on Friday August 24, Tumbler Ridge joined the rest of the world when High Speed internet finally arrived in town. 
 
Lloyd Hanberg took home a gold medal at the BC Senior’s Games. 
 
September
 
September brought with it a new school year, and the first new major development in Tumbler Ridge’s history, a $15-million series of duplexes that should be completed sometime very soon. 
 
It also brought news that Al Durand had passed away. Al was a longtime resident and occasional writer for the paper, and while it wasn’t unexpected, it was a sad day for all those who knew him. 
 
Kurt Peats declared his intention to run for the South Peace Conservative Nomination.  In November, he was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate for this region. 
 
By the end of September, most of the perpetrators of the vandalism over the summer had been caught. 
 
In September, we discovered that a new reality TV show focused on mining was coming out, and that there were a couple TR residents featured in the show. 
 
And over at Quintette, crews removed the last section of the old conveyor belt, signaling an end to an era. 
 
October
 
Tumbler Ridge had its first tax sale in five years. 
 
The Quality Wind Project was commissioned. As a going away present, workers from the project dropped off a donation to the local food bank. 
 
After 30 years, Squad 1, the first fire truck in Tumbler Ridge, was officially retired. 
 
In mid October, the world’s attention turned to the concept of Chinese Miners working in Tumbler Ridge. The project, which had slowly been gaining momentum was suddenly the focus of intense scrutiny, as two unions took the company to court in a bid to stop the TFWs from coming. The case continues, though an injunction to stop any more miners failed, and there are now around 75 temporary workers from China in town. 
 
On October 13, power was knocked out in sections of the lower bench as an unmarked power line was damaged by workers at the Monkman Commons Duplex project. The power came back on the next day. 
 
In October, we learned that the mother shift would not be happening at Peace River Coal, much to the disappointment of some. 
 
The snow started falling in mid-October, and despite many warm spells, stayed. 
 
November
 
Once again Tumbler Ridge remembered its veterans. In the paper we met a couple vets and heard their stories. 
 
Training began for the first group of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) to come to Canada. 
 
A local grad won the Cirque de Vie scholarship for a video she produced on how women are portrayed in the media. 
 
Constable James Bos was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. 
 
And the Tumbler Ridge News asked what’s with all the fracking earthquakes? Is there a connection between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes? (Short answer: Maybe.)
 
There was a burst of activity at the Community Centre with new spray toys put in at the tot’s pool, and the new playground upstairs. Joan Zimmer’s murals were also supposed to be installed, but they didn’t go up until December.
 
December
 
HD Mining continues to dominate the news in December with a new group of businesses creating Friends of HD Mining, and an injunction against more miners arriving being rejected. But the month wasn’t all bitterness and strife, with the well attended Holly Jolly Christmas event at the community centre being the big event. 
 
A chimney fire on Peace River Crescent was discovered to have been started by ants, and not fire ants, but just regular old carpenter ants who had chewed up the wood, creating sawdust, which caught on fire. 
 
And that’s the highlights for the year, at least how we saw them. If you disagree, or have a favourite story, feel free to write in and tell us: editor@tumblerridgenews.com