I attended the all-candidates forum and got the impression that our future leaders want to make nice with the neighbours. But I’m not sure the neighbours want to make nice with us.
One thing that wasn’t said, and what people don’t get is: property values. The one crucial reason to bring this area together is to save our collective property values.
Think about this: if the government of BC ever gets its dung in a puddle and decides to build a new hospital, it will go to the largest city in the region, and that would be Castlegar (population 7,800 compared to Trail’s 7,200).
Castlegar is already lobbying for this and has a chunk of land all set out for it.
And if Trail loses the hospital, our dreams will be dashed – dreams of selling our homes and moving to that great retirement place in the sky (or in Castlegar, where all the retirement homes will be).
But let’s back up a little.
Recently, Trail lost to Castlegar in this year’s Communities in Bloom competition.
Why is that a big deal?
Because communities all over the world are developing a framework to make them the most liveable, to increase residents, business investment and tourism. Having a good Communities in Bloom standing will be the benchmark for companies looking for towns to invest in.
Why did Castlegar do so well?
Services. We can brag about all our sports facilities (which we don’t let some people use) and we can boast about our lovely parks and flowers, but Castlegar has three museums, a skatepark for kids, outdoor exercise area, an upgraded downtown, restaurants, hotels, conference centre, airport, college and have you seen that new water park?
Castlegar also has one council and one mayor to deal with (and we have 27?) We must be the laughing stock of the province.
Face it: Trail is shrinking. (In the 1953 telephone directory, Castlegar took up two pages to Trail’s 26. By 1963, Castlegar’s pages grew to nine, to Trail’s 35. You get the picture?)
As more people retire, move away, and young ones are not living here, Trail will be down to 5,000 people in no time. And if you think that won’t impact housing prices everywhere from Beaver Valley to Rossland, think again.
The only way to increase our numbers and have a bigger voice in the province is to amalgamate like so many other communities across Canada are doing. Become the District Municipality of Lower Columbia (or any other name you want to call it).
And as for the museum/library – again, it is a no-brainer. Whether you ever read a book or visit a “whatchamacallit” as one of the candidates suggested, we need good services that can be shared by everybody.
Why? Again, it boils down to what your property is worth. The more services in an area, the more attractive it is to potential buyers.
Otherwise, kiss the hospital good-bye and be prepared to see our investments and lifestyles sink into oblivion.
And in 15 years, when your kids and grandkids are trying to convince you to move to wherever they live “so they can look after you in your old age” your property won’t be worth squat.