For the past decade, the Hazeltons have struggled in ways many towns and cities in Canada would not have withstood. The crash of the local logging industry many years ago was a key factor in what would then turn the town in to a economical downward spiral. Businesses closed, hundreds of people moved away, schools and education suffered and people in general have struggled in a variety of ways. On the upside, those people and businesses that have survived have come out stronger in many ways.
Now, after years of no end in sight, the economy in the Northwest is seeing an increase in many ways and the light is shining bright at the end of a long dark tunnel.
While jobs within the Hazeltons are not necessarily booming, the jobs around us are. Kitimat is now hiring at Rio Tinto Alcan with plans to employ hundreds of people this year and hundreds in the years to follow.
The logging industry is once again rising to meet demand and mills like the Kitwanga Sawmill and the local little mills are staying busier than ever. Local logging shows are finding a surplus in work for the first time in years and the effects are being felt from Prince Rupert to Prince George.
However, perhaps the biggest sign of an end of the economical depression-era is the Northern Transmission Line. Not only is this new power line creating jobs, it is securing the future for the mining industry. It is the mines that offer huge stability and with jobs estimated in the thousands, it might be time to go and get a few mining tickets. While mines are camp work and it means being away from the family, they are still close to home for weeks out and time off and the money and job security is a huge plus.
Already local businesses are feeling the effect of the mining boom in the northwest with things such as selling parts, tires, hotels with work crews passing by and much more.
Not only will the new jobs help families that have suffered for years but the effect that trickles through our hometowns will be long lasting and diverse. From the coffee shops and restaurants to the grocery stores and gas stations the future is looking a whole lot friendlier. As many realize too, the increase in local businesses also creates more local jobs and with a little luck, many people will look to move to our communities to be closer to their work. More families equals more money and a better economy and school system and as we all know, we can use it!
So in the short run, hang in there, start looking at new options and find ways to cash in on the new economic growth already underway in the Northwest. I really believe that the future is finally looking very promising for the Hazeltons and I for one couldn’t be happier. I love where I live and I hope our communities will continue to grow and bloom.
Shannon Hurst writes the weekly My Town column for the Hazeltons.