Mayor’s Column – February 21, 2017

February 21, 2017

 

In recent weeks you have been seeing more trucks than usual parked in various places or rolling through town with the commerce of the North East in their holds. You’ve also noted that many of these trucks are moving coal from Wolverine Mine to the Willow Creek Loadout – or maybe you haven’t noticed or didn’t know.

But you must have known that Conuma Coal has reactivated the idled Walter Energy mines putting scores of workers back in the pits and behind the wheels. All that is good for our economy and we are happy for the increased regional employment and other opportunities that mining activity brings in its wake. Residents of both Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd are the main direct beneficiaries with a huge spinoff effect on local businesses.

But with the business and employment opportunities come challenges for District of Chetwynd management. Where are the trucks going to park? Where will mine workers muster to catch the buses to the work sites? Let it be understood that these are challenges we like to have – but challenges nevertheless.

Looking out my office window as I write, I see two trucks parked on South Access Road. One is a loaded log truck that will soon be unloading at one of the mills; across the street and facing west is a tri-drive dump pulling a dump trailer, both with extended sides. Could be a coal truck. Maybe. Drivers are likely satisfying their mid-day hunger at the cheerful restaurant just opposite. I certainly approve. So the drivers top up their energy supplies at the restaurants, fill up their fuel tanks at one of the local card locks, and come home at the end of the shift to a warm house and a tasty meal sourced at one of the local grocery stores.

It’s good for the local economy! May the wheels keep turning and the drivers keep awake!

But every truck has to park sooner or later. District of Chetwynd Administration, with support of Mayor and Council (just saw an empty coal heading back to the pits for a refill), are working with local business leaders to provide the parking we need to keep our economy moving and robust. This requires not a little ingenuity and willingness to innovate.

It also takes time and patience – time for Administration to work through the legalities and the physical challenges, and patience for all of us to put up with the trucks that have to park in less-than-optimum locations (they do have to park).

So to the people of Chetwynd I would say, ”Because our home town was built on wheels, continues to prosper on wheels, continues to move its commerce on wheels (there’d be no town here without wheels), and hugs and feeds its truck drivers when they come off shift, please bear with us a little longer while District Administration with the support of Mayor and Council continue to chip away at a very good problem.

There are solutions. Some of them just have to be built.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor