I’m sitting at my desk in the beautiful Chetwynd Centre that the good people of Chetwynd built in their wisdom to represent some of the community values we cherish. I’m doing a mind exercise, attempting to capture some ideas in print. It’s not ever easy to roll out my weekly column. Some weeks I just have no starting point until I get a starting point. Then the ideas continue to come, slowly or easily. It is always my hope that the ideas I place on the screen, and ultimately in your mind, contain some elements of reason and utility, and maybe a little inspiration.
Anything more seems more than can be expected of an old mortal.
Economic development is still on my mind, though not in the guise of industry and jobs. I continue to lean heavily toward the school of economics that teaches that the softer components of our community are the real, though intangible drivers of the economy. If we can provide the things that keep the family engaged, challenged, and productive, jobs will ultimately come. (This doesn’t sound Malthusian or Keynesian – may we be delivered by and by from their influence; and maybe someday there’ll be a new theory of economics to inspire government decisions.)
For the last few days CBC Radio has been calling for nominations for favorite public library. I heard a few good ones but, of course, I didn’t hear them all and I didn’t hear anyone call in for Chetwynd though I’d be very surprised if no one nominated the Chetwynd library, the soul of our home town. I have written a couple times about the work that has been done over the past year or more to upgrade or replace our facility. I might as well be candid. I am for replacing the facility if we can meet our needs at a cost we can bear.
Don’t ever slide into the snare of thinking the library is a superfluous luxury (that is, more luxury than we need). The day we decide we don’t need a vibrant, commodious, inviting public library is the day we start to die as a community. I trust we will all be wide awake and understand the issues when the time comes to vote.
Choice in our educational options is another evidence of a healthy community that is open for business. Public school, private school, and post-secondary opportunities all give evidence of a community that welcomes business and supports the families of business people. Did I mention French Immersion? I didn’t. But I will.
I just read that French Immersion will no longer be an option in our home town when the new school year opens its doors to eager scholars in September. Why? Why? Why? I know of at least one family that moved to Chetwynd because we were wise enough to provide French Immersion. Will that family now leave? Surely there must be in town enough young children whose parents value bilingual descendants enough to send them to French Immersion – even against their wills.
I know that if French Immersion had been available when I was a kid in correspondence school, I’d have been in it up to my eye balls. Oh, the opportunities missed because I was born 70 years too soon and or grew up in the bush! (But I had other opportunities the value of which cannot be measured.)
Are there other “soft components” of our home town that we need to support, promote, and enhance? Without a doubt there are. Some of them are costly like your Library and French Immersion. Others just take your time as volunteers. Some of them take no more than a friendly greeting as you meet on the street and a pause to ask, “How’s your day going?”
Economic development? It starts at home or on the street with me and you.
Oh, by the way, “you can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” (C. S. Lewis).
Merlin Nichols, Mayor