Answer for Chase is in road to Sun Peaks

It is with great sadness and concern that the third Chase business in as many months is closing down. The business was viable for many years, but in these though economic times, it cannot remain open. Chase is not unique in its present economic circumstance.

Throughout many industrialized countries, we are witnessing the decline of the "small town." It is not only the businesses that are affected in Chase but also services. We have lost one of our elementary schools and are witnessing the decline of medical services, i.e., decreased hours of operations and doctor availability. As our village declines we become less desirable to medical personnel.

This loss of services makes the community even less desirable or even practical for many who would contemplate moving here. As a community slips further into economic decline there are many social costs as well, such as increased crime, alcohol and drug addiction and family violence. Also, with this decline comes the increased need for medical care when the medical care itself is in jeopardy.

In Chase and district we have two types of local government, Chase mayor and council and three First Nations chiefs and their councils. If we are to survive as a viable community we must see ourselves as one community.

This brings me to the subject of the "Sun Peaks road." Every Chamber of commerce board and every economic development study of this area in the last 20 years has come up with the same conclusion. The opening of an all-season road to Sun Peaks would provide the greatest economic benefit.

Creating a direct link to Sun Peaks would stimulate our local economy in numerous ways, i.e., provide employment access for current residents, attract new residents who could see Chase as a viable resident option while working in Sun Peaks, create an increase flow of tourists, increase recreational and social activities between the two communities (making our community more attractive to potential residents), give First Nations increased opportunities to showcase culture and history (as in a cultural centre) as well as providing services en route. These are just a few of the economic "spin offs" of opening this access.

Historically the issue of "the road" has been about land claims. The reality as I see it is that it could be many more years, if ever, that these claims are settled to everyone's satisfaction. In the meantime we are witnessing the slow death of a once viable community.

I understand the importance of maintaining culture, language and entitled land claims, but as one elder expressed to me recently, "If we don't do something to create jobs for our young people, we'll have no one to teach language and culture to." If our local First Nations leaders (some, not all) stay locked in their traditional stance of blocking any motion to developing an all weather access to Sun Peaks, they must also assume responsibility for the social and economic consequences. If anything, a prosperous, thriving community would give more power and credence to rightful land claims, i.e., Chief Louis, Osoyoos Indian Band.

If our leaders lack the insight or fortitude to understand the critical importance of our current economic circumstance, it becomes essential that we the people must in no uncertain terms put pressure upon them. I know I'm not alone in this sentiment. If you feel as I do, I urge you to influence our leaders to make change. Unless you create change, change will create you.


Past president and past vice-president, Chase and District Chamber of Commerce


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