Weekly Jay HIll Report

Celebrating Success in Tumbler Ridge … again!

In the midst of my ongoing meetings with constituents, businesses and local representatives this summer, came an event that reaffirmed my faith in the enduring spirit of the people who choose to make northeastern British Columbia their home.

The occasion was Tumbler Ridge’s Grand Opening of the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail. In order to understand the significance of this latest endeavour, it’s necessary to provide a brief, not-so-recent history lesson.

As the rest of the world celebrated the beginning of a new millennium, the District of Tumbler Ridge was in crisis. With the closure of the Quintette and Bullmoose mines, many speculated that Tumbler Ridge itself would shut down. Indeed, with few employment prospects, some residents were walking away from their homes. Businesses were closing shop. It was grim.

Yet the community refused to give up. It wasn’t easy. Those residents who remained weren’t waiting around for a resurgence in the mining sector as their sole economic rescue plan. An intense focus on economic diversification and seizing every opportunity began to pay off.

According to the latest Census, the population of Tumbler Ridge has increased by 33 percent since 2001. Not only that, average household incomes have risen. The town is booming. A newly-opened hotel is at or near capacity, and new projects, including the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail and a proposed wind power facility, demonstrate that the local economy is thriving.

While the flourishing coal industry has certainly contributed significantly to economic recovery, Tumbler Ridge has been careful to tap into other sectors, such as energy, tourism and recreation.

The community has built considerable momentum and economic activity from the initial discovery of dinosaur tracks in 2000. The Peace Regional Palaeontology Research Centre and the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery have captured regional, national and international attention.

Quite literally, Tumbler Ridge has dug-in deep to position itself as a world-renowned site for dinosaur fossils and bones, as well as expertise in the field. The most recent discovery of new dinosaur bones dating back 75 million years and the expansion and relocation of the Dinosaur Gallery will further enhance this aspect of Tumbler Ridge’s tourism industry.

The Monkman Pass Memorial Trail, a driving and hiking route extending from Beaverlodge to Tumbler Ridge to Kinuseo Falls on through the Rocky Mountains, is yet another means of showcasing Tumbler Ridge as a destination of choice for those seeking outdoor adventure and recreation. In the 1930s, Alex Monkman began blazing a trade route through the mountains for Peace Country farmers to market their produce. He and his supporters almost succeeded before the outbreak of the Second World stopped them.

Alex Monkman had the grit and determination to continue to pursue his dream even when others around him told him it was impossible. Though he was not able to see his dream fully realized, the community of Tumbler Ridge refused to let it go and, with the grand opening of the trail earlier this month, they have proven once again his determined spirit and courage is alive and well.

We weren’t only celebrating the new trail. We were celebrating further evidence of Tumbler Ridge’s perseverance and success. Check it out at: www.tumblerridge.ca.