You’ve heard of communities built on flood plains or stony uplands; you’ve heard of walled towns that seem to grow out of the pinnacle of the rock (look for them in Italy); you might even have heard of communities built on permafrost. But did you ever hear of a town built on wheels? No? Think again, and think closer to home. You are living in a community built on wheels. That’s right. Chetwynd is built, and sustained, on the wheels of scores of vehicles from the rugged 4WDs that most of us love to drive, but few can afford, to the triple-axled monsters that provide our livelihoods.
It matters not that you clerk in a grocery store or teach in an elementary school, your livelihood in Chetwynd is built on the wheels of the trucks that rumble down our streets or pause on the access roads while the drivers hurry in for a refreshment or a part – or even to deposit a hard-earned check.
Did you know that annually 13,000 loads of logs are dumped in the Canfor yard? I got that figure straight from the boss’s mouth – 13,000. Do your arithmetic. Subtract roughly 80 days for break-up and other down time; that leaves you roughly 160 days to accommodate the 13,000 trips through town. That works out to roughly one trip every 8 minutes during a long working day just for Canfor and then we have West Fraser and all the other industrial, commercial, and leisure activity that happens on wheels.
We get used to it. Do we even see the truck as it rounds the corner? Do we pause to think that somebody’s neighbor, husband, wife, daughter, or son is safely guiding the rig over treacherous roads and through our town? Behind every steering wheel there’s the face of some person, some human being with hopes, fears, and emotions just like the rest of us. On every wheel is a pair of steadying hands guiding that load safely to its destination.
Is there something that needs to be done to make this town, built on wheels, and that career, a little more user friendly for those who guide the wheels? Is it better parking space that is needed? Is it something else? These are the obvious questions. Perhaps you have other questions. Perhaps you have answers.
I am actually thinking of something else. Truck driving has to be one of the most stressful jobs begging for drivers. With the average age of drivers now standing at 55, do we see a crisis in our future? Is there something that can be done to add a few more miles to the careers of those who are approaching 55? I think there could be, but I would like to hear from the professionals who support this town with every turn of their wheels. After all, ideas need to be current and I haven’t used my Class I in 35 years.
Give me a call.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor