Times in Trail: Trail much more than the musings of Internet trolls

"Nothing gets your blood boiling faster than a story on your hometown, and the ignorant comments that follow."

Dear Internet commenter, you know less about Trail than a …

No, I should probably delete that.

Dear Internet commenter, perhaps you should visit Trail so we can give you a …

No, I should probably delete that too.

In a world where anyone can comment about anything without the slightest bit of fact-based evidence, nothing gets your blood boiling faster than a story on your hometown, and the ignorant comments that follow.

I should know better, and usually I do, and let those comments slide or not even read them. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

Last week’s Globe and Mail story on Teck going to court and CBC’s own article, had many local people up in arms at the image it painted of Trail.

It didn’t help that commenters lobbed their own bombs ranging from “this place should be closed,” to “what a horror story this is.”

These people obviously have no idea what Trail is about. They still buy into the image of a desolate, barren area destroyed by 19th century environmental and industrial standards.

They are unaware of the hard work groups have done to improve the vegetation, the parks, and the overall beauty of the city. They’re unaware of our annual river clean-up efforts.

They are simply unaware.

There’s no mention in either story that Teck took steps immediately to address the problems. There’s no mention of the time and money invested to address all the issues from fugitive dust, to lead levels to protecting the river.

It makes me somewhat sympathetic to the plight of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Here is a city that could probably build the world’s nicest parks, pass the highest environmental standards and rebuild every house with gold fixtures and it would still be viewed as a cesspool thanks to the oilsands and the image it has projected across the country and around the world.

The fact that people are unwilling or just too lazy to actually do any further research than reading one publication’s opinion and spouting off as if all-knowing, shows the scope of their intentions.

But we’re used to it here.

Even back in the days of our world championship hockey teams, a time when the city was beaming with pride, the eastern media had to take the wind out of our sails.

The scribes assumed there was no way that a group of hockey players from a hardscrabble little town in southeastern British Columbia could ever compete on the world stage.

The media swayed the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) enough that it told Trail to pick up some more players from elsewhere in the country to bolster its roster before heading overseas in 1961. The boys from Trail weren’t good enough to do it on their own the CAHA presumed.

“Nobody believed in us,” Don Fletcher was quoted at the team’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2011.

Thank goodness Internet wasn’t around in those days. I can only imagine the comments from hockey fans, who had no idea what the Trail Smoke Eaters were about.

When someone pointed out CBC’s Teck story and the comments, I said they should know better than to take those comments to heart.

But the reality is everyone is proud of their town. Everyone gets riled up when an unflattering light is shone on it.

At a Black Press Christmas party a couple of winters ago I met a reporter who had moved to Nelson from Fernie but had yet to visit Trail. She asked me if the lead in the air was really bad and if things like the water and soil were really contaminated.

My first reaction, which I wisely kept to myself, was to berate her for being so ignorant of a neighbouring town and to make such wild assumptions that should against the grain of any reporter.

My second reaction, which I shared, was to simply tell her a few things about Trail, the Community in Bloom awards, Gyro Park, the murals, the community spirit.

And I ended our conversation by telling her to actually visit our city and then she can see for herself.

She’s not working for the Nelson newspaper anymore and I never found out if she visited Trail or not, or simply left the party with the same impression of our city that she had before.

It’s easy to get caught up in the vitriol some people say, especially in the wild west of the Internet.

But as I sat at my desk looking out the window on a sunny Tuesday, I can see the top of Granite Mountain and the snow covered hills. At lunch I took a walk along the Columbia River wall, gazed over at the progress of a new bridge and heard the humming of Teck, which still pumps life into this community.

Considering a lot of other places to live in Canada, I’m pretty happy where I am.

And if people refuse to find out more about Trail and simply rely on an article in a Toronto publication for their knowledge of this little town in southeastern British Columbia, then that’s their loss, not mine.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times