As I was driving into town, clouds, white and dark in the morning sunshine, gathered here and there against the hills; remnants of the early morning rain glistened on the leaves. In the distance the peaks of the Northern Rockies stood out against the sky and below, the town spread and clustered along the highways in the valley. This is the town we live in. Our town.
Most of us live here because we want to live here. We love this valley and everything that it is. Of course, some would like more shopping options with lower prices; some more restaurants; some more streets to cruise. But most of us are quite pleased with Chetwynd the way it is. Oh yes, there are a couple of large vacant lots down town that we would like to see developed but we recognize that that will happen as the result of business decisions. And these business decisions are made on the basis of projected return on investment. It is the same with housing. Before a builder will drive a nail, he or she will have to be reasonably certain that the finished house will return a profit. Profit is what business is all about. It’s not bad.
Looking about town one can see a number of housing units in various stages of construction. It’s a healthy sign and someday soon these houses will become homes to families who will make our streets just a little brighter because they live here.
It is common knowledge that many of the people buying groceries in the evening are temporary residents here for the job. I recently sat beside a young man on the flight from Fort St. John to Vancouver: “Are you on your days off? “Yes. I work at Willow Creek and live on the Island.” Another encounter: “Do you live in Chetwynd?” “No, my home is in Nanaimo. I drive home on my days off.” “And you?” “I live in Clearwater but the work is here.”
These are people who, for one reason or another, have not yet chosen to invest in our town. They have not yet committed to buying a house in our town – though many have. In fact, I was bold enough to stop at a house that I knew was recently purchased and knock on the door. Yes, a new couple had moved to town and I had the pleasure of welcoming them with a fresh loaf of zucchini bread. Try it some day; you’ll like it – the welcoming, that is. Zucchini bread is also pretty good.
I suppose this gets me to my point. In many cases, it seems to take more than work to get a new family settled in town. It takes an attitude. And it takes an action. Potential new residents have to have a reason to believe that they can settle in here and find a home, new friends, things to do, and a welcome. That’s your job.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor