February 3, 2016
By any standard of the world, our home town is a pretty good place to call home. No, we don’t have white, sandy beaches lying in the shade of coconut palms, caressed by soothing breezes, and washed by blue-green seas. No, we don’t have a lot of things. Still, by any standard…
We have most of what we need: stability in the work environment (for the most part); flexibility in job opportunities; room and opportunity for personal growth; and what the vast majority of this world’s transient population would call perks – and all of us are transient (no, I’m not referring to food, clothing, and shelter).
We have the best of almost everything; still, change happens and we have to learn to embrace the unknown, the unfamiliar, maybe even the unfriendly. Like the six-year-old boy with his dad, his hands clasped behind his head and his eyes closed, sighing contentedly he breathes out his happiness: “Dad this is life; you, me, and my I-pad.”
And change is happening to us as we go about our familiar routines. A year ago I reported on the robust hopes for the lumber industry. We are still hopeful but not nearly so robust. At the Premier’s BC Natural Resources Forum I chanced to have lunch with the Lead Negotiator in the Soft-Wood Lumber negotiations sometime to be undertaken with the United States. I can’t report that things are going well or not well. The best description is that though the latest treaty expired some months ago, we are not yet going anywhere.
That said, I have to give credit where credit is due: to the industry. The behemoth to the south will never go away and would love nothing as much as for our lumber industry to go away. We aren’t going to go there any time soon. The forest industry in British Columbia has been hedging against the known threat. Locally, our two sawmills are well positioned: the timber supply is secure and adequate and each of them has built and commissioned a subsidiary plant that will absorb much of the shock of a difficult lumber market.
Conditions are not nearly so hopeful in much of the rest of British Columbia. The fibre supply is diminishing as a result of the pine beetle epidemic that has raged for the last fifteen or so years. Mills will close during the next five to ten years. Communities will be disrupted. Even by standards of rural British Columbia, our home town looks pretty healthy, quite safe, and certainly friendly.
But I don’t want us to start taking our blessings for granted. Change happens in the most unexpected ways, at the most unexpected times. Personal preparation, corporate preparation, and municipal preparation don’t happen by chance. Preparation always precedes luck.
For some, preparation involves taking advantage of mom and dad for support in education and training; for many of us preserving our assets ranks high; and that applies to the District of Chetwynd as well.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor