Andru McCracken, Editor

By Andru McCracken

I was driving by the Valemount Industrial Park the other day and saw a queer thing, a bulldozer was clearing some land of snow. I’m glad I enquired about it. The community forest found a great deal on a modern mill courtesy last year’s forest sector apocalypse.

They were clearing land at the industrial park to have a place to land and assemble the new equipment.

It’s tough to overplay the potential. A new local mill turning marginal timber into lumber could have vast repercussions locally. Seven or eight industrial jobs in the wood sector is a huge win for the community. There is great work for people there and it could start as soon as the fall.

Valemount, vis a vis the community forest, is finding its footing on the fringes of the forest sector. I hope they have the success and longevity of the recently lost Hauer Brothers Mill. Apparently a dearth of wood fibre has made it viable to ship woodchips vast distances solving a really important question for local mills about what happens to wood waste.

There is no doubt we’re in the midst of a major upheaval. The Valemount Community Forest proves the point that in a sea change opportunities abound.

It’s a queer thing that the work of building the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion has been declared essential and allowed to proceed. It flies in the face of admonishments we receive daily from various authorities ranging from health experts to the Prime Minister.

The exceptions to the rules speak volumes about what we value as a society. If we’re ever asked by fans of big oil whether we really care about the economy, we can reply with a boisterous ‘hell yeah!’ We’re putting lives on the line. I hope procedures put in place to keep workers and communities safe will get us through this unscathed.

We’re in the midst of what appears to be state-sanctioned xenophobia. Anyone flyin in from anywhere is responsible for staying isolated for 14 days. Hopefully when this passes we’ll get right back to being as welcoming as ever. I wonder.

McBride and Valemount have opened Emergency Operation Centres in a state of level 1 readiness. Many municipalities had declared local states of emergency but in an effort to coordinate a provincial response to the COVID-19 threat the Province declared a province-wide state of emergency.

Municipalities are tuned into the Province and are ready to help implement measures to stem the COVID-19 tide.

I’ve seen a lot of self flagellation over the treatment of seniors of late which is kind of strange.

We’ve basically shut the local economy down in honour of everyone who has a weakened immune system which includes many seniors. We’re making big changes to make sure that anyone who will need the health system in the coming months has a place to go. It’s the right thing to do and I think it’s awesome even though there will be economic casualties.

We’ll be taking stock of the challenges facing local businesses at the Goat in the coming weeks. If you know of a business that is struggling or has already winked out of existence, we’d love to talk to them. Keeping our heads in the sand about what COVID-19 means serves no one.

It’s going to be interesting to see how McBride and Valemount fare in the face of COVID-19. The two communities are receiving distinctly different treatments. McBride is on the quieter highway and McBride’s council is openly admonishing people not to visit. Valemount continues to be an economic hub. With any luck both will escape harm. Time will tell.

I’m guessing that more people are shopping local for groceries than ever before. It’s a strange silver lining. I hope it becomes a habit. For complex reasons I won’t get into, I think this is a partial answer to hard questions about food security.

I hope your garden is growing well. We’ve yet to reckon with how the ongoing crisis will impact food supply in the medium term. Could this crisis divert local household finances from the clever shareholders of Walmart and Amazon stock to local people skilled and dedicated to life-preserving practices… namely food production?