Trent Ernst, Editor
A Healthy Future for TR
Exactly one year ago we welcomed two new nurses into the emergency room. While the two had started previously, it was out first chance to get a photo of the two of them. The two have gone a long way towards alleviating the medical crunch Tumbler Ridge had been feeling over the last few years. Add that to a new doctor in the form of Dr. Pilay, and Tumbler Ridge’s short term future looks healthier than it had in the past.
Getting Lost in Nature
On January 9, our big story was a pair of locals getting rescued after spending the night in the Core Lodge area. They were the first pair to be rescued, but not the last, as a few months later a different pair of explorers got stuck along the road to Monkman Provincial Park after going for a ride. Finally in June, a pair (are you noticing a trend here?) of hikers-turned-scramblers got stuck on the slopes near Bergeron Falls and had to be pulled out by Search and Rescue.
Fine Dining in Tumbler Ridge
In January, the Duck Stop Cafe opened. Despite being a local favourite, it didn’t last the year.
A second restaurant, the Action Play Cafe, opened later in the year in the Community Centre. The restaurant at the Tumbler Ridge Golf Course closed late in the season. It’s fate is currently uncertain. And, despite losing Shareen, the Western Steakhouse remains open.
The night the lights went out…again
On January 23, the power went out for most of Tumbler Ridge. The outage lasted for 40 hours. Would now be a good time to mention that BC Hydro is planning a day-long outage sometime in the next little while?
The year of the party
While Tumbler had the stuffing knocked out of it this year, we didn’t let it get us down, as this year saw more community gatherings, events and parties than we’ve had in recent memory. It started out on January 30 with the Winter Carnival, where members of Tumbler Ridge and surrounding area came together to celebrate their cultural diversity.
Other grand gatherings this year included the Cultural Fair in April, the celebration of 30 years since the Grand Opening of Tumbler Ridge in June, and then the usual host of events like Canada Day in July, Grizfest in August, the Duck Races in September and the annual Halloween Bonfire.
still waiting after all these years
In our Februray 6 issue of the paper, we noted that Monkman Commons was near completion. The year is over, and Monkman Commons is still not complete, leading one letter writer to quip it’s taken longer to build that one development than it did to build the entire town.
There’s no place like home…
Also in February, the numbers came out saying that home sales down 50 percent in 2013. The numbers haven’t been released yet for 2014, but we’re suspecting they’re going to be down even further.
Biggest in the world
Later on in the month, Canadian Dehua announced their Wapiti River Coal Field was largest known coal deposit in the world.
Going to Victoria
On March 12, a delegation from the Peace Region went to Victoria to discuss the Tumbler Ridge Museum and the Geopark. It would not be the last time that a delegation would go down to Victoria. In October, Mayor Wren went down to Victoria to discuss a “made in TR plan” to get the town back on its feet.
In March, PNG’s proposed virtual pipeline from Dawson Creek to Tumbler Ridge was approved. A virtual pipeline is just a fancy word for shipping gas by truck.
As of December, the virtual pipeline had yet to materialize, as demand has not gone up as expected. However, the plans remain in place in case demand does surge in the future.
Also in March, the master plan for the clinic was brought forward, causing some confusion as, when it was announced, most people in town took the idea of a master plan to include provisions for staffing at the clinic. Instead, the Master Plan focused almost exclusively on the building itself and changes that will have to happen if/when the town grows.
Big mining award
In April, Walter won a major safety award for its Wolverine Mine. It was the last good news of the year for the mining industry. By the end of the month, Walter had announced that it was idling all of it’s mines in Northern BC, including the Wolverine Mine. There are rumblings about one of the mines starting up in the new year, but right now, any talk of Brule re-opening is completely speculative.
For spring break, two groups of TRSS Students went to Europe first time in years; one group spent their time in northwestern Europe, touring many war memorials from World War I and II, while the second group went farther south.
A Challenging situation
While the Emperor’s Challenge didn’t happen until August (spoilers: Kris Swanson won. Again.), the big story of the year happened the day that registration opened. And closed. Because the race, capped at 1000 people, was full within 12 hours, and the only reason it took so long was because the registration system was crashing under the load.
Idle some more
On April 22, Teck Coal announced that it was deferring plans to open Quintette, putting 80 people out of work. Those joined the 415 people who lost their jobs a week earlier when Walter idled its mines. Another 300 people are out of work or will be out of work as Anglo puts the Trend and Roman projects on mothballs until the price of coal strengthens.
Best of the best
Barb Schuerkamp was named one of the best nurses in the province, winning a prestigious award from the BC College of Registered Nurses. While it’s nice to have her work acknowledged, this is something that anyone who has ever had to go to the clinic has known for a long, long, time.
Turn towards tourism
In one of its most controversial moves, Council approved spending $1.5 million on a new building to replace the current Visitor Centre. While the building will be multi-use, many people saw spending so much money on a building when the mines announced they were closing as foolishness. Council stuck to its guns, and the building is nearly ready.
Street View goes live
Am I revealing myself to be a geek to say that this is one of my favourite stories of the year? In May, Google added street view data for Tumbler Ridge to its maps. Now if people want to see where you live, you can simply take and send them a street view image of your house, your street, your neighbourhood, your town. And, if you want to see yours truly, you can see me standing across from town hall while the car drives by. Sadly, they did not map the Shop Easy Parking lot.
Real estate gets real serious
In May, Tumbler Ridge Realty had its licence suspended by the Real Estate Council. REC suspended the license “as a result of the failure of Re/Max Tumbler Ridge Realty to account for trust monies held on behalf of clients.”
Out on Strike
Our cover story for May 29 was about teachers begin rotating walkout. Within a month it was a full scale strike/lockout, which wasn’t resolved until September, the longest Teachers’ strike in BC history.
Burn, baby, burn
In July, a fire started down around Red Deer Creek, causing people who remembered the last time a fire of this magnitude started around Tumbler Ridge to panic.
Fortunately the wind pushed the fire away from us, but for a few weeks, it was the biggest fire in BC. By the time it was put out, it had forced its way into Alberta.
Passing of a legend
On July 16, Janet Hartford passed away. Janet was one of the first residents in the Tumbler Ridge area, having spent her summers in the cabins near Kinuseo Falls when she was growing up (and if you asked what cabins near Kinuseo Falls, you now see how long ago that was), and then moving back to the area with husband George in 1983 to teach here. She was much-beloved by all who knew her.
A group of Tyrants
In July it was revealed that a local guide outfitter had discovered a trio of Tyrannosaur tracks, the first such discovery in the world. While the discovery had been made a few years earlier, these tracks are the first to show Tyrannosaurs traveling in close proximity to each other.
Grizfest. Emperor’s Challenge. Sam Roberts, and one of the nicest months on record. Yeah, it was a good month to be here.
In August, Tumbler Ridge played host to an international symposium on aging, with some of the best minds in the field gathering here in our little town to talk about an aging population in small towns all over the world, discussing the similarities, and differences, between different communities and different countries.
The Other Shoe drops
In September, the other shoe finally dropped, with Anglo announcing PRC would be winding down by the end of the year.
While mining died in Tumbler Ridge in 2014 (don’t worry, it’s only slightly dead), the good news story has to be the Geopark. In June, a delegation arrived to tour through the Tumbler Ridge area and evaluate the potential for a Global Geopark to happen here.
While the delegation got to see all that Tumbler Ridge had to offer at the time, the summer of 2014 yielded some remarkable discoveries: new dinosaur tracks, new waterfalls, and all manner of fossils, from giant clams to fossil river channels.
Despite the new discoveries, there are still many areas within the Geopark still waiting to reveal their treasures, and the upcoming year promises to be as exciting as the last.
The excitement culminated with the announcement (in October), that Tumbler Ridge’s bid had been successful.
Over Tumbler Ridge
Brandon got a drone, and started releasing videos showing the beauty of Tumbler Ridge, as shot from above. The videos have been viewed all over the world.
Made in Tumbler Ridge
Mayor Wren went down to Victoria with a “made in TR plan” to get the town back on its feet in October. While there he met with many ministers and companies. While he was warmly received, much work needs to be done by the new council to keep pushing it forward. Some elements of the plan have been cast in doubt by recent events. For instance, the province recently announced it was pushing ahead with Site C. This means that the likelihood of any major wind projects getting approved in the next few years is slim.
In November, a new council and a new mayor Don McPherson was elected.