We are beyond lucky to have the town we do.
How many other towns under 6,000 people (I can hear our new MP’s voice ringing in my head: “but thousands more in the surrounding regional district area”) look like Smithers?
More importantly, how many have the amenities — the museums, art galleries, pools, figure-skating and gymnastics clubs — we find up here in the little slice of northern B.C. all of us are lucky enough to call home.
In terms of event-filled nights, last weekend was a doozy: Christmas in The Valley, the first night of Festival of Trees and what looked like it was shaping up to be quite a cozy Telkwa tree lighting ceremony at Flagpole Park — complete with carolers and Santa — as I was heading out after grabbing a few quick shots.
There was also the Artisans of the Valley Christmas Craft Fair at the Old Church.
The Way North of Dixie jazz band doing a live recording of their second album at the Legion.
I’m sure there were more events — there always are.
And while it can be challenging co-ordinating about who is doing what, having too much news on your plate is never something I’ve heard a journalist complain about.
When I would go camping in Ontario I’d have to pass a lot of small towns to get to the spots I liked to go. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: some of them were really ugly. As in “wait, that was a town?” kind of ugly.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re great for me (I’m sure housing prices are low and hope I can find a similar place in B.C. one day when I’m ready to buy property as an asset) but not somewhere I’d want to raise a family.
When I finished up training in Prince George for my old job at The Moose and was driving through to Smithers, seeing many of the smaller towns in between reminded me of that.
I’m sure for some people it’s exactly what they are looking for.
For me, a 20-something-year-old who does at least try to have a semblance of a social life, it’s not.
Back to last Friday. As I was coming into town from Telkwa I decided to give Main Street a lap in the spirit of Christmas in the Valley.
As someone who didn’t really get to experience it last year because I was super stressed about my cat being flown to me from Ontario, let me just say I was in awe.
My hometown is about 100,000 people and while we have a couple of musical festivals where we shut the downtown off from vehicles, there is nothing even close to Christmas in the Valley.
Maybe it’s because there doesn’t have to be (more people, less of an emphasis on local shopping) but that doesn’t mean this is a good thing.
As I walked down and back up Main Street I just took in the sights and sounds of the night.
The rosy-faced hordes. The children riding piggy-back on their parents shoulders. The sounds of carolers mixed with laughter mixed with the familiar clip-clop of horse hooves walking through the snow-laced pavement.
This is not sponsored content.
I am often critical (and I should be — we all should) of the Town’s decisions.
But in order for critical comments to actually bear weight you need to be able to acknowledge when something has been done right.
Smithers’ downtown has been done right.
The alpine theme. The seasonal decorations. The trees on what seems like every corner (which we only don’t notice because we’ve become so used to them). The amenities.
We are so lucky to live in a place where the infrastructure and general theme matches the overall natural beauty of the region itself.
Not only that, but one where all these volunteer-run clubs and groups have created a community which is vibrant and which can sustain and attract interest (whether industrial, entrepreneurial or residential).
I often say working in the media is a job where virtually all direct feedback is negative. I think the same rings true about being a member of a municipal council, or simply a municipal staff member.
So let me just say, in this season of thankfulness, to this council and councils past.
To the countless people who have donated their time, money and effort to this community.
To anyone, regardless of what we may agree or disagree on, who truly want what is best for this community: thank you for taking the time to make Smithers the way it is.