The year that was

Trent Ernst, Editor

If you are a celebrity, you should be hiding right about now.

This was a bad year for famous people. George Michael. Zsa Zsa Gabor. Andrew (Manuel) Sachs. Leonard Cohen. Pete Burns. Bobby Vee. Gene Wilder. Kenny (R2-D2) Baker. Anton Yelchin. Muhammad Ali. Prince. Ronnie Corbet. Harper Lee. Alan Rickman. David Freaking Bowie. All died in 2016.

Here in Tumbler Ridge, 2016 was a mixed bag. The big story of the year was the return of coal, with the Brule Mine opening up a few months ago and the Wolverine Mine expected to ship its first load of coal early next month.

That’s tempered with news that the Murray River Coal Mine won’t be opening any time soon, as the decision around that is awaiting a study on the effect of industrial activity on the area caribou herds and that Quintette won’t be re-opening any time soon.

There’s been no news yet around Anglo American’s Peace River Coal mine, but the last time we talked to them, they said coal prices would have to settle in at a much more stable price for them to pull the trigger on re-opening.

Our main story looks at what the District has been up to the last 12 months. Let’s take a moment to look at what happened elsewhere in town.

In January, the news came down that the town’s population had dropped ten percent the previous year, the largest drop by percentage of any municipality in BC.

In February, we learned that the builders of the Visitor Centre was suing the District for $1.2-million. They have since settled for $250,000, which is about $62,000 more than the amount still owing in unpaid invoices.

February was also the month that an Alberta man just about got caught in an avalanche in the Bullmoose area. He had a helmet cam, and the video he shot of the incident went viral.

February was also the month that Filaprint won the Best Concept Award at the BC Small Business Awards. This year, they’re in the running for the Best Innovation Award.

In March, a seven-year-old boy donated a Mammoth Molar he found to the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre.

April was hot dry and windy, and a number of major forest fires burned in the region before the rains came again. Fires closed the highways out of town temporar- ily, and, at Sanctuary Valley, a grass fire got into their greenhouses and burned them to the ground.

April also marked 35 years since the town was incorporated. The town celebrated by having a TV crew come to town to tell the town’s story for the show Still Standing.

In May, one of Canada’s best Children’s authors, Eric Walters, came to speak at the Tumbler Ridge Public Library. The same month librarian “Mr. Chris” Norbury won a Library Advocate award from the BC Library Trustee’s Association.

In May, the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society re-established the Greg Dukes Lakes Trail. Meanwhile, Mayor Don McPherson took leave to deal with health issues. He was back in time for the Grizfest Parade.

In June, Lakeview cut the hour’s down at their Tumbler Ridge Branch in an effort to keep the place open. 

The same month Tumbler Ridge was cut off from the rest of the province for a few days after torrential rains washed out both main highways into town.

In July, a group of former Quintette employees decended on town for the first (and quite possibly last) Quintette reunion.

August saw the usual Grizfest and Emperor’s Challenge events, and in September, Tumbler Ridge went to three doctors when Shola Solomon started working at the clinic.

In October, Conuma shipped its first load of coal from the Brule Mine, and in November, the RCMP discovered a Fentanyl Lab in Tumbler Ridge.

And that’s what the last year looked like. Here’s hoping for a happy and prosperous 2017.