Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Transplanted wild rose likes B.C. better

Transplanted wild rose likes B.C. better
By Andrea Johnson

Jul 08 2007

Went back to Wild Rose country a few weeks ago.

Fuelled by a major energy boom, Alberta hasn’t really changed from when I was last there two years ago.

Except for the fact both Edmonton and Calgary boast a population of more than one million, there is road construction chaos everywhere – infrastructure is crumbling.

Except vacancy rates not only in those two biggest metropolis’ but in smaller cities such as Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat hover around one per cent. In Fort McMurray it’s even worse.

Except people who have well-paying jobs live in shelters because they can’t find anywhere to live.

Construction of affordable high- density housing is way behind because demand for single family dwellings has skyrocketed. New subdivisions are popping up everywhere, taking over once fertile farmland.

Some people who work in Calgary are commuting south from Olds, a 60-minute drive down Queen Elizabeth II highway, Alberta’s major thoroughfare.

Skilled trades workers are in high demand.

My friends who are partners in an auto repair shop in Edmonton haven’t found a replacement for a mechanic who left 12 months ago.

My sister and brother-in-law can’t find a plumber to re-do an $18,000 job on their master bathroom because it’s small potatoes compared to bigger contracts plumbers have.

Hospitals are building new wings and, while attracting top calibre researchers, there aren’t any nurses to work in them to care for patients.

People are making a ton of money and enjoying every cent of it with new vehicles, bigger homes and buying vacation property in B.C.

That’s my home province for you.

It’s changed dramatically since I left for a job in the Lower Mainland seven years ago.

The only constant while visiting last month was the never-ending sky. The smell of freshly cultivated soil.

Rainbows after a thunder storm.

Prairie highways and roads I’d driven a thousand times.

I was asked if I’d ever return and live full-time in Alberta. I said no.

While Alberta will always be in my blood, I prefer B.C., even though it’s not perfect either.

And here in Quesnel I’ve grown accustomed to Cariboo time, its people and its lifestyle.

Perhaps I’ll even get used to winter again.

Andrea Johnson is editor of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

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