Turning inner space into outer space

July 4, 2011

A fork in the road: if not resources, then what?

If nothing else, the Ajax mine proposal is forcing Kamloops residents to think about the image of our city. Are we a hard-core resource-based kind of place? Or do we aspire to something more?

There is a good argument to be made for resource city. After all, we have a pulp mill on the edge of town and we have several railway tracks running right down the middle. The city is a major hub for highway transportation.

Kamloops has a long history of being a centre for extracting resources, processing them, and sending them on their way to places like Vancouver, where they are distributed around the world. And, really, there is no shame in that. Resources are the engine that drive B.C.‘s economy.

About the only “clean” industry of any consequence is tourism. Kamloops has tried to build on that with the tournament capital concept, and people do come here for golfing, skiing and mountain biking. But we don’t really have any major attraction within city limits that would compel visitors to make the city a destination.

If we collectively decide that a mine is not right for the Kamloops we envisage, then we should go further and decide what kind of industry we do want here. If it’s tourism, then we should redouble our efforts at growing it. Are there any landmark buildings or major events to draw people here? Maybe we should draw on our western heritage and transform downtown into Barkerville for a week.

If we don’t want a large-scale mine in our midst, then we’re going to have to think big about what we want in its place.