As advanced as we may now be in terms of technological progress, we’ve always had the ability to seek out a better life or, at least, a change.
For some of us that means the condo down the hall; for others, a continent on the other side of the globe. For me, it means a promotion to a newspaper in the province next door.
It’ll be sort of like going against the flow during rush hour, trading in the end-of-the-line, frontier land-rush environment of Sooke for the wide open landscape directly east of Red Deer.
As editor of the Stettler Independent (another paper in the Black Press chain) I get a new set of people, facts, figures and burning issues to become acquainted with. There are even two other papers to oversee in neighbouring villages called Bashaw and Castor.
The situation will be just about as different as it could be: going from Sooke, a scenic, relatively affordable bedroom community with nagging growing pains, to a young municipality with a lot of catching up to do, especially in terms of infrastructure keeping pace with an exploding population.
Geography and maturity (not to mention a fairly healthy oil- and gas-driven economy) have teamed up to furnish Stettler with some of the amenities so badly craved in a town like Sooke, things taken for granted elsewhere, like enough sidewalks and streetlights.
The town has a population of close to 6,000, about half that of Sooke. But it seems much bigger because it serves a regional population of 30,000. It’s kind of like Langford East with all of the commercial accoutrements you’d expect. Stettler is home to a healthy arts and culture community, along with – as the pamphleteers eloquently assert – a world of recreational opportunities.
Claustrophobia is less likely to occur on the sprawling prairie than in a foggy rock-and-conifer dominated Island environment. But if a need for more cosmopolitan stimulus shows up in Stettler, there is a city of 90,000 just 40 minutes to the west, plus Calgary and Edmonton are each only about two hours away.
These points indicate a rewarding, interesting future is possible in an area that residents like to call “the Heart of Alberta.” But they will not dilute the fond feelings for Greater Victoria and the West Coast climate built up over so many years.
The last five years have been good, a good start on a connection with Black Press I’m pleased to be continuing.
I get to trade in my fear of earthquakes and tsunamis for a fear of tornadoes and drought. As for flooding, I don’t yet know enough to cultivate a decent phobia.
Many thanks to the thoughtful folks who have reminded me of the lower temperatures I’m likely to notice in the winter months – it’s very caring and I appreciate it a lot. Thanks to you, I’ve made a note to consider switching to long-sleeve shirts in late October.
Truth be known, my wife Barb and I have spent many years in an area with much more extreme weather than Stettler, and we can report we’ve retained 100 per cent of the feeling in our extremities.
I’ll keep up with what’s going on in the Capital Regional District and watch with interest what happens to Sooke’s transportation arrangements and the ongoing development controversies in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.
Thanks to Rod Sluggett, Pirjo Raits and Mike Kraft for the past five years, and to the very good friends we’ve made here – we will stay in touch.
Jim Sinclair was the reporter at the Sooke News Mirror.