For the first time in almost four decades the community of McBride, B.C. will not hold its annual Logger’s Bonspiel.
Secretary of the McBride Chamber of Commerce Linda Fry says the cancellation is indicative of the decline of the forestry industry in the community.
“In 1996 we had a large forestry building that housed a number of employees … there were some large mills here, there was a lot of wood that was trucked out,” she told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon. “That’s sort of shrunk up. A number of those mills are no longer operating.”
Fry says over the last 20 years, as the mills have gone so to have other jobs in support industries including garages and even government offices.
She estimated that 20 years ago the village had a population of 770 people. Today, that number has fallen to less than 600.
Fry says McBride is in a similar situation to Tumbler Ridge, which has seen people leave town and property values plummet as local mining dried up.
She says like Tumbler Ridge, McBride needs to reinvent itself, and pointed out economic opportunities through arts and culture and outdoor activities, in addition to what she said were good schools and a hospital.
“There’s a lot of things really going for this community, but it’s not an industrial sector anymore,” she said.
Fry said McBride would attempt to hold a bonspiel next year, but said the curling club and chamber of commerce needed to make some changes to the event to make it succeed.