Meet the Mayor
April 30, 2014
I am not writing today about breaking news. We all know about the impending closure of Brule and Willow. It is our response to the closures that I want to think about today. Since I do my best thinking through my fingers, I will share some of my thoughts with you.
When industries make development announcements and contracts are inked, euphoria usually runs high. We get excited. We dream big and plan investments to capitalize on the opportunities. Everything is growing. Streets will be paved. Businesses will open. People will move to town and builders will be able to move their inventory – as will the hardware stores, restaurants, dog groomers, and all other enterprises. Everyone who wants to work will have a job and employers will be stealing workers from each other.
It’s the nature of the world we are in. Highs are eventually followed by lows.
Chetwynd is blessed. Chetwynd has been blessed from its birth.
We are the children of our parents who taught us how to live in the wilderness and to thrive. When our ancestors topped Wabi Hill and fixed their gaze on this valley they must have seen the potential because they stayed here, sank deep roots into the soil, mineral, and forest resources, harvested crops from the wild, and prepared the wilderness to sustain a modern industrial culture that retains its links to our past.
In their wisdom, our parents understood the need for a broad-based economy. They quickly recognized that lumber, while profitable and sustainable, was insufficiently broad to provide the sole support for the community. Agriculture was developed parallel to forestry until we have a strong base of resilient farmers.
Drilling for gas has been in our valley for more than sixty years. (Amazing how quickly time goes by!) The gas industry now is huge and provides a major contribution to our community support. We expect these industries to continue and to grow in response to the demand for the products.
But what about the turn-down in the coal mining industry? That’s going to hurt, isn’t it? Of course it is, and the pain has already started. The 85 plus residents of Chetwynd and the hundreds of others from around British Columbia have been thrown into uncertainty with upset plans and missed vacations.
But this is Chetwynd. We are the descendants of our parents who settled this valley. We are bruised but not easily broken.
The diversified economy we have inherited and nurtured is already clamouring to employ the skills idled by the closures of the mines. In time, and probably not a lot of time, those from Chetwynd who have lost their jobs at the mines will be absorbed by the thriving local industries that are always looking for skilled workers.
So keep the faith and don’t lose heart. This is Chetwynd and we’ll rebound with vigor and enthusiasm. In the meantime, in supporting our local businesses you will be supporting yourself and your community.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor