Wrapping it up

Dianne St. Jean
Wrapping it up

Christmas is a peculiar time of year. Whether you think of it as a sacred time or celebrate it as a festive holiday, the sentiment around it carries a common theme.

It’s about excitement and anticipation of good things to come, while at the same time reminiscing about and cherishing the past. Much about Christmas is about nostalgia and tradition.

How fitting, then, for it to be symbolized as a wrapped gift – new things we excitedly look forward to while also recalling the year and events that have just passed or ‘wrapped up’.

And so with Valemount.

When I came here five years ago there was high anticipation for the pipeline and the ski resort. In my viewpoint, those seemed to be the two predominant things of interest, especially the pipeline. Everyone was hoping that, at least by this time, projects would be well underway.

With that anticipation came excitement that even outsiders wanted to become a part of. In the grand scheme of things, five years really isn’t a long time, yet I’ve been amazed at the number of changes in that short span that I believe were triggered by speculation.

A once almost-dead real estate market got a boost in the arm, at least for a while. Outsiders began to come in and buy up property, and with each new updated announcement came a rise in property prices.

There have been new start-ups, some successful, some unfortunately not so much, and several businesses that were operated for years by long-term locals now have new owners, most from outside the province. It seemed for a while that almost everything was for sale.

Although these two awaited-for projects created some hope and hype – they most definitely do not define Valemount’s past or future.

Valemount has people living in it that are resilient, who won’t take loss, or failure, or setbacks for an answer. As someone who was not born and raised here, seeing the innovation and determination that keeps Valemount going has been impressive.

While some would-be investors might have been drawn here because of the ski resort or the pipeline, others came, and continue to come because of the lifestyle Valemount offers. Love hikes or bikes, challenging mounds of snow or sand? Want to see peaks of mountains rather than high-rises when you look out your window in the morning?

Those are the other reasons why Valemount continues to draw in new people and new ideas. I don’t look at the setbacks or delays of those major projects as a disappointment. In time they will happen because economics, determination and demand require it. Nor are they the only things happening. Soon we will see more visitors come here to experience programs offered by the new Valemount College. Valemount is most definitely on the map.

I have the same hope for McBride. It’s got great people, and a mayor whose mantra is a determination for economic success. Like Valemount, it’s got a dedicated snowmobiler following and is working to expand its bike trails. No doubt in time McBride will begin to see its own revival.

So here’s a toast to Valemount and McBride, not just for successes in overriding past challenges, but also in anticipation of good things to come.