Where are all those people living?

Why are our towns empty with seven billion people on the planet?

It’s time to leave the planet – it’s getting too crowded down here. Seven billion people is mind boggling. It makes all other figures tiny by comparison.

That the United Nations predicted the population to reach seven billion on Hallowe’en is appropriately scary.

So why is it that populations in small towns like Ashcroft and Cache Creek are declining or just barely holding steady when we have so much room to offer? Or perhaps the better question is, why do we think small town living is better?

From personal experience of living in big cities and small towns, I have to say that I much prefer small towns. But apparently, millions of people do not share that view.

Over 36 million people live in Tokyo, 22 million in Delhi. Closer to home, there are over 19 million people in the New York-Newark “city”. Do you remember when Canada’s population was 20 million?

I’m beginning to think that instead of trying to attract people here to live, we should be thankful for the open sky, fresh air, room to move about, and the lack of industry lining our rivers.

I was in Kamloops a few weeks ago and stopped at a large grocery store for just one item before returning home. I waited in line. Waited. Waited some more and finally returned the item to the shelf and left. On our way home we drove through Cache Creek and straight to Ashcroft’s Safety Mart where I picked up the cat litter, breezed through the checkout line and happily chatted with several people that I knew while completing my purchase. And Kamloops isn’t even large by today’s standards.

No, I wasn’t serious about not wanting to increase the local population, but you get my drift. We are social animals, but 20 million in one city is way too social for me.

We’ve seen governments try to disperse their population into the rural countryside. We’ve listened to our provinces try to encourage professionals to practice in small towns. Makes me think of that old song, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?”

It doesn’t mean that it’s good for us, but I guess big city life is part of our nature.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal