Redirecting potential shoppers

Dear Editor

I am inspired to write this letter by the two wonderful letters that appeared in the May 24 Journal by Barbara Roden and B. Booth.

I really enjoyed reading B. Booth’s letter as it reminded me of the Ashcroft and the people I knew growing up at Loon Lake. When B. Booth mentioned that Ashcroft was the place for locals to shop for groceries, another memory was raised which connects to the letter from Barbara Roden  about making an effort to keep and attract more businesses and shoppers to Ashcroft.

From the 1930s through to the 1960s, both my grandparents and my parents were among the many district area ranchers and farmers who supplied the food that the Chinese grocery stores sold. We went to Ashcroft to purchase what we needed from all the shops and to talk to government agencies for licenses and permits and forms. The decision about going to town however was based on what we had to sell and what the shops needed – eggs, raspberries, potatoes, carrots, turnips and so forth. I remember working along side my parents the day before “going in to town day,” preparing the items and packaging them ready for delivery. A 50 pound sack of potatoes was my lesson in weights and measures. The “town day” was a long one as at every stop for delivery there was also coffee and a chat to bring everyone up on the latest news about neighbours. Income earned locally stayed in the district.

Today there is very little local food sold in the grocery store at Ashcroft; most is trucked in from the U.S.A. The farmers’ market is an alternative but only on Saturdays in the summer, and should be better supported by locals than it is. The market at Desert Hills is wonderful and a great contribution to the community that attracts people from the district to Ashcroft.

However, Ashcroft has lost its role as a district centre and that is one of the main reasons for the reduction in business in Ashcroft, not a declining population – in fact there are more people living in Ashcroft now than there were in the 1950s. The thousands of people living in the rural areas surrounding Ashcroft no longer have any reason to go to Ashcroft and decisions made by local politicians, including the mayors of Ashcroft and Cache Creek, are actually forcing district people to drive elsewhere for services. Of course they will also do all their shopping and chores at the same time, elsewhere.

Already everyone at Loon Lake is driving too often to Kamloops for doctor’s appointments and treatments that could be made available in Ashcroft through innovative mobile clinics as is done in other countries. While there they shop, go to the hairdressers, the pharmacy, buy paint and building supplies– and eat lunch as well. This means another loss of income for Ashcroft and Cache Creek businesses.

Now the TNRD Board – which includes local politicians – are telling the 1,100 residents of Loon Lake that their Transfer Station is being closed and services are already being withdrawn. We must continue to pay over $125,000 in taxes for the service however. We are told we “can easily” drive our waste and recycling to Clinton (between Friday and Monday) or to 70 Mile. This means that we will be required to drive to one of these locations at least once a week.

This will completely break any business contact between the residents of Loon Lake and the businesses in Ashcroft and Cache Creek. All commerce currently done in these towns by Loon Lake residents will be shifted to other places. A bit will trickle into Clinton and goodness knows Clinton can use more business – however the majority will now shift their shopping, doctor’s appointments, banking, insurance, prescriptions and  barber and hairdresser visits and so forth to businesses at 100 Mile House.

Businesses in Ashcroft need to attract more district producers and consumers back into town for a “town day” – but the decisions made by local politicians will bring about the opposite effect.

Talk to your politicians – see if you can make any sense of their actions – we can’t. It’s certainly not to keep taxes down as they claim. The TNRD’s own cost forecasts show that by 2012 the costs to operate the 13 upgraded Transfer Stations will be $389,000 more than it would be costing to have kept open all 32 Transfer Stations and maintained them at the level they were operating at in 2007. By 2017, the TNRD forecasts that the 13 stations will be costing taxpayers $1,439,421 more than it would have cost to have kept operating all 32. That does not included the many thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions created by all the extra driving  of garbage now required; nor does it included the millions of dollars of extra cost for gas that rural residents in 19 areas must now pay.

And it means they are killing businesses in their own towns. Ask them why?

Barbara Hendricks

Loon Lake