BACK IN the 1900s — it sounds so long ago when you say it that way — I had an opportunity to attend a Guide & Outfitters conference and chat with several licensed hunting guides who were running their businesses in British Columbia.
It was in the mid 1990s and a new land management policy was being introduced by the provincial government, which would alter the way our forests and mines operated in the province. At the time, I was president of the Cariboo, Chilcotin, Coast Tourism Association and our discussion was intended to look at the impact this new process would have on the tourism industry.
During the course of those conversations the guides and resort owners mentioned how valuable the fall moose hunt was to their business. Wealthy clients would fly up and pay thousands of dollars to hunt but those in the industry were concerned about declining moose habitat and populations and the impact it would have on their businesses.
I innocently asked why they don’t “shoot” the same moose each time a hunting party came up. By shoot, I meant with a camera instead of a rifle, not out of a sense of a “no hunting” mentality but as a businessman who saw an opportunity in what was then the infancy days of the Enviro-Tourism market.
To me, several photo safaris a month that captured the same moose turned that moose from a one-time sale into a revenue machine that kept turning out a profit. It would also open up the market, allowing guides to work beyond that short fall hunting season.
The response surprised me, as the answer was pretty much, “no way.” When I asked why, they told me quite matter of factly that it simply wasn’t the way things were done. People paid them to hunt, they took them hunting and that’s the way they did it, the way their fathers had done it before them and the way their children would do it in years to come. Resource decline and changing attitudes be damned as they made decent money extracting a limited resource… a resource that was profitable but only once.
That conversation has stuck with me for years and has come back to mind more recently as we talk about resource sector jobs (Ajax) and diversifying the economy of Kamloops.
Are we still stuck in the nostalgia of those “good old days”? A time where a kid could leave high school, step into a well-paying job at the mill and just like his father before him, work there until he retired.
Those were the glory days of the resource sector. Think of all the mills that once existed in and around Kamloops and people they employed. For the most part they are gone. Corporate consolidation, market fluctuations and technology eliminated many mills along with their jobs.
So what about today and Kamloops? Do we old men hang onto the belief the old ways will return or do we look at a new economic model that utilizes talent and resources in a different way? Are the possible jobs at Ajax our salvation or simply a delay in recognizing the resource sector we once knew and counted on has and is changing? Have we become so desperate for the jobs of those former glory days that we are willing to allow a huge open pit mine at our City’s boundaries? At what point does nostalgia and dreams of the past become a hindrance to the future?
Do we sell our one-time extraction of ore for jobs that have no future and in the end will require workers to move somewhere else in order to try and repeat the process? To me that approach seems more like shooting the moose until there are none left simply because that’s how we’ve always done it.
Forget what that kind of attitude does to the resource and others who share the resource with you. After all, it’s all about a few of you making a hundred grand or more a year on the backs of a community of 90,000 people.
In the end, even the company that hired you will abandon you without so much as a thought or concern. Your legacy? You dug a big hole beside our city for them and the hole and your services are no longer required. No other developed country will allow what you did but of course there are many more impoverished and desperate towns in third world countries that will sell out to them as easily as you did.
Bill McQuarrie is a Kamloops entrepreneur. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @mcrider1.
March 30, 2016 08:45pm
bronwen scott says:
March 31, 2016 03:47pm
And about the pit being used for water sports: even Ajax had to admit that seepage of “Fluoride, Sulphate, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Zinc is likely to remain into Post Closure the duration is far future.” So we will be left with a toxic lake.
Please, read the application, not just the company’s propaganda.
March 31, 2016 07:44am
You seem to be under the delusion that Ajax will be hiring lots of under-privileged people who couldn’t get a post-secondary education. Aside from a few mine truck driving jobs (which will probably be automated after a short period of time) what jobs do you think these people are going to be doing at the mine? Just because Ajax seems to hire people without a clue for communications and public relations doesn’t mean that they will continue to do that when it comes to operations.
March 30, 2016 03:21pm
Underground mine worker says:
March 30, 2016 02:30pm
Roy kahle says:
March 30, 2016 09:41am
March 31, 2016 07:52am
March 30, 2016 10:33pm
March 30, 2016 12:26pm
March 30, 2016 11:58am
I agree that the root of the problem is the demand for the resources and that a “not in my back yard” attitude mainly just pushes the problem onto someone else and is possibly selfish but I also think that refusing this type of development as shortsighted encourages us to look for more long term solutions. Ultimately we will run out of accessible mineral resources on earth, the more we focus on reducing consumption the less of a system shock it will be when the growing demand exceeds the plummeting supply.