Editorial – Stop whining about winter

Jeff Burgar

We country folk might be our own worst enemies.

This idea came up when hearing the problems some local businesses hoping to attract new people to work for them are having.

Now, one can make a huge list of things wrong with places like Grande Prairie, or Manning, or Athabasca, or any of our local communities.

As they say however, there isn’t a pancake made so thin it doesn’t have two sides.

For every list of wrongs, there is at least an equal list of things right. Proof of this could be in the fact our communities are still here. Often struggling yes. But still here.

Some people might remember when the ideal goal of many Albertans was retiring happily in the Okanagan of B.C. That still works for some.

Others decided they would rather be someplace even warmer, like Arizona or Hawaii. Two or three week holidays stretched into months. Finally, half the year was spent away from Canada.

This is not an Alberta or Canadian idea either. The same is true in the northern and eastern United States. Once upon a time almost everybody hoped to retire, or even move early in their careers to “sunbelt states,” from Florida to California. Weather is just part of the story.

We like talking about the Five Pillars of a Community. They are mostly equal, ranging from Quality of Education, Health Care, Community Safety, Recreation Opportunities, and what is often considered the fundamental, Economic Opportunity. Most people probably wouldn’t care what kind of shape their local skating rink was in if they couldn’t put food on the table. Most people don’t look down the road ten or fifteen years and decide going back to school is a better option than taking a good job in the oil patch today. Good pillars attract, and retain, people.

One can argue if people are moving into a community, that will cut the number of people moving out by at least half. People like to be around friends and relatives. People like familiar surroundings. Give them and their families solid pillars and they will tend to stay put.

Our local politicians often forget this. They talk good stories. Yet all too often, they bog themselves down in petty grievances and gripes. Real issues rarely get properly addressed because of stupidity, incompetence, arrogance and worst of all, cronyism. When, or if, they ever set themselves down to look at long-term goals and strategies, they fill out a book and put it on the shelf.

Wouldn’t it be nice to brag to a prospective employee how great our schools are? The fantastic indoor and outdoor recreation and cultural activities that abound? Wonderful doctors, nurses and facilities? How people don’t lock their doors and how safe are the streets for young and old alike?

As a newspaper, we love to report on such. We would also love to hear both federal and provincial politicians tell us, as good as we might be, how they are going to help us help ourselves making our communities better. It’s all a fine idea that doesn’t happen enough.


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