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COMMENTARY · 3rd November 2011
Merv Ritchie
Originally written and posted on February 25, 2007. My views have not changed!

As a reporter, it is my job to report on the activities and events that seem newsworthy. It is not a reporter's job to whine and bitch about the things going on around town. It is important for me to refrain from editorializing when I report on events. I am, however, one of those types of people that have an opinion on virtually everything and am more than prepared to share that point of view. That is what this type of column is for; sharing my opinion.

I have been active in many different political type organizations. I use the term “political” rather loosely here although I did engage in pure politics, running against our current health minister, George Abbott in the Shuswap, (I came in last place). Among other things, I was a safety representative for the steelworkers at Quintette Coal in Tumbler Ridge, president and secretary of a registered society and was the training officer/lieutenant in a volunteer fire department. I started this political type activity very early in life as a student council representative.

Through all of this, I learned one thing that I'm sure you have heard repeated many times. It is that only two or three people do all the work. The masses of the membership of virtually every organization sit back and let the very few do all the work. This is true of unions, professional associations, and political movements. If you want to become involved and take a role in any number of groups you will be welcomed with more than open arms; most will bend over backwards to accommodate you, particularly if you are prepared to take on a leadership role.

The other thing I learned throughout decades of involvement in these types of structures is that once you take up a public role you become a target for all the disillusioned folks that are afraid to, or are incapable of, taking on that same role. It is those who sit back and bitch and complain about those that are leading, that keep very willing and competent people from taking these public positions.

Locally I attend as many functions as I can. I have yet to make it to many. I'll accept any invitation. The functions I have attended reflect my previous statements. The same few people seem to be doing all the work. Take our Mayor, Jack Talstra, as an example. He isn't just the Mayor, he is also on the board of the Regional District. In fact he is the chairman of the board. In my experience it is the board that selects who will be the chairman. This means that this 12 member board selected Talstra to preside over their deliberations. That is a serious vote of confidence. But he isn't alone. You might notice a few names constantly repeated around public positions. Many people will complain about the Mayor and others. Just how many of those complainers are willing to take on the task? And further, in my attendances at City Hall and the board meetings of the RDKS, very few people even show up to watch what the City or Regional District does. It must be extremely frustrating for these fine folks to endure constant criticisms when they themselves see that very few citizens of our fine community are participating or taking on roles that contribute to the betterment of our City.

So it comes as a very difficult position for me to jump on the actions of our City Council, because I know from personal experience, the unrewarded effort of their roles. It's just that the City has just crushed the morale and civic pride of a very special group of people; the accommodation sector. The Hotel, Motel, Bed and Breakfast, and Campground owners that are the first people to greet visitors to our very special City. In the final last gasping throws of the Terrace Tourism Society (TTS), after those who gave their heart and soul to the success of this Society, those who selflessly promoted Terrace to the world had left the Coast Hotel meeting room, one pro Kermodei group retailer hummed out, in a drumming fashion, a victory march, something like; da dum, dum, da dum, with a fist raised and smiling. What a sad state of affairs!! Here we had a slate of hard working volunteers who were willing to work on behalf of the City, with no personal reward, being driven out of a position that so few would take. I'm sure that, upon reflection, when the work that now has to be done by newcomers, needs to be done, those boastful winners of an unnecessary battle will regret their intransigent bullying ways.

Before I came to this community last year, I searched out Terrace on the internet. I was immediately directed to the TTS website. From there I found all sorts of information and pictures of Terrace. I was completely taken by the beauty of the place and decided to pull up stakes and come here where I plan to stay. This is an absolute jewel of a place to call home. I plan, also, to selflessly promote Terrace to the world as an environmental gem. As I said earlier it is my job to report on the events that are newsworthy. Terrace is newsworthy, in an environmental way, for the world. I have taken up a very public role and am well aware, too, of the personal attacks I may suffer simply because of this role. I beg everyone, however, to look deep, to dig deep and find a way to heal these wounds. In a community suffering from such deep economic depression, beating up on each other will not make things better. We must find a way to forgive and to work together again.

Maybe we can, with Love, Respect and Compassion.