CONTRIBUTION · 14th October 2011
I shake my head as I look at my name on the list of candidates for Mayor. I keep asking myself, ‘What was I thinking?’ And I reflect on my thoughts on this over and over. I know the decision had something to do with the others running, but they also have good intentions. So as a Candidate I offer my background and let you decide.
By trade I am a Heavy Equipment Mechanic. I obtained my Inter Provincial Journeyman’s certification in BC in 1982. I worked in Saskatchewan on agricultural equipment and then in two BC open pit mines on crawler tractors, trucks, shovels and drills. I worked on the biggest mining equipment in the world as the Union “on call” HD mechanic. I understand mines and the vast quantity of electrical power required for a large mining operation to be economically feasible.
In 1986 I owned 14 acres of land near Courtenay and worked, flying by float planes out of Campbell River, repairing diesel generators at remote logging camps, fishing lodges, fish farms and First Nations villages. It was then I began studying alternative energy systems. I became a specialist in run of river hydro electric systems, wind turbines and photovoltaic (solar) systems. Through the late 1980’s I designed and installed systems at mines, fish farms, private residences and remote communities. I participated in the first call for proposals by BC Hydro in 1989 for IPP’s (Independent Power Producers) to provide electrical power generation systems.
As a business person, importing and exporting, hiring and firing, running four businesses simultaneously in Vancouver, I also attended numerous trade shows; Home shows, RV shows, Boat shows and Aquaculture expositions. It was an exciting time operating two offices in Downtown Vancouver (Pender and Granville).
After I completed my largest hydro electric project, (2 km of 14 inch diameter pipe with 500 feet of head; a $250,000 project), the stock exchange trading company I had the contract with refused to pay. I went broke. It wasn't that I did something wrong; the plant still runs to this day. I learned even more about the VSE (Vancouver Stock Exchange) after that.
I entered politics for the first time as an independent running against George Abbott in the 1994 Provincial election. At the time I was involved in the construction industry in the Shuswap area of BC operating a crane truck delivering building materials and hoisting all types of products into position for contractors. By the end of the decade (the century actually) I was operating as a general contractor building new homes and renovating older homes.
I was also the figure head for the local community Association and spearheaded a successful lawsuit to regain 1300 feet of beachfront property on the Shuswap Lake, two boat launches and a tennis court valued at $3 million, for the local property owners association. I retain a lifetime membership for this effort.
As a winter ‘side’ job I worked for the Highways department as a Snowplow operator and then later as a HD Mechanic for the Highways Contractor. While working in Salmon Arm I designed and fabricated equipment to handle specific highways maintenance jobs.
After living in a semi retired state for three years a relative asked me to come to Terrace to set up a news print press in an attempt to restart his failed newspaper. I arrived in Terrace in January 2006. I found a building for him, helped raise money, setup and wired the press and then began printing his newspapers. After less than a year, he left the Northwest and I remained behind.
Since January 2007 I have been writing and reporting on the Terrace region, attending almost every City Council and Regional District meeting. I have been writing it as I see it, without any connection to the past; no personal connections to businesses or residents. I was alone with no ties to anyone. I did however have a connection to the original peoples of the area.
While working for Fording Coal, an open pit Coal mine in BC, I moved out into the woods. I despised the “Camp Life” and found it much more comfortable to live in the bush with the Bears, Moose and Elk. While living in a pup tent, 2 kilometres up a valley called Chauncey Creek, 15 km from Elkford and 5 from Fording Coal, an old grizzled hunting guide came to visit and we shared a cuppa tea.
He told me I was doing it all wrong. He had been guiding for decades and told me what I really needed was a Tipi. I laughed at him and told him I was no Hippie. He explained how he used a Tipi for years. He explained how silly the standard hunting “wall tents” were. “Everyone sits low anyways, why heat the roof?” I then began to learn and understand the First Nations people didn’t survive thousands of years through the harshest of conditions without learning a thing or two.
Arriving in Terrace I discovered a First Nations population that were way beyond Tipi’s. These peoples had a thriving long term non-nomadic culture. I have spent the last 5 years learning something completely new.
I know this
If we want an economy, we need mines, resource extraction and the delivery and support systems for this activity. To do this we need a power line. Personally I believe BC Hydro is building the Northwest Transmission Line way too small. It should be built to handle a capacity at least twice the present proposal. And as for the Cranberry connector, this is a no brainer, we must continue to push for this, for everyone in the Northwest.
As for pipelines from Alberta, I believe all the refined product should be carried by containers, by rail and loaded as containers onto container vessels. This way, an ocean catastrophe will see floating containers, not beaches and marine life poisoned for centuries.
Another issue is “Run of River” power systems; electrical power plants that utilize the pressure of water diverted into a large pipe at an elevation much higher than the turbine. The pressure of this water creates enormous power. Environmentalists are out to lunch opposing these at every stage. The only opposition to this, the cleanest power known to man, should be on the ownership of it by anyone but the residents of BC. I agree with WAC Bennett on this issue. This is BC’s resource.
As for a Jail on the Airport Land? An incarceration Prison just because it is offered? My belief is we need a drug and alcohol treatment facility first. If the Feds and the Province have money to spend, first let’s try a treatment facility. I would argue tooth and nail against a prison and for treatment.
And then there is the "Unique Culture" here of the First Nations People. It almost seems that everyone, except some of those who were born and raised here, want to come and experience this culture. When CBC came for Hockeyville, Cassie Campbell was stunned by the Kitsela’s dancers. We have a treasure that seems to be side lined. Every visitor, almost without exception, stands in awe. I was one of those. Yes we put up Totems for show and maybe even to patronize, but we are not fully acknowledging the First Nations contribution and the potential.
But none of these issues are about the Terrace Mayoral race.
I want to make Terrace a much more enjoyable place. As simple as the following may sound it is a reflection of the lack of awareness for the people in Terrace, pedestrians and drivers. First, the top on my list, is the intersection at Lakelse and Sparks Street. Never in my years have I encountered such a disagreeable intersection. This would be easy to fix so that when you pull up, the light changes in a reasonable period of time; to not stay red when there is no one else around. And while we are on Lakelse Avenue, why can’t one turn north onto Emerson between 9 am and 6 pm? This might have some value between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm but the major traffic is now on Keith Avenue. I personally believe these signs are a remnant of the time when the Old Skeena River Bridge was the only way through Terrace and no one has woken up and paid attention to the changing City.
And the weeds; what’s with never cutting the weeds and grass in the ditches and the main streets in Terrace? I have met with many City workers. They all seem to understand but as an employee, like I was as a HD mechanic, they do as they are told. And further to that, the desire to appreciate the work, the company and yes, the town, comes from the respect they are shown for their effort. Terrace needs a team player. Not a boss, not a figure head, but a person who can relate to those who make the place what it is.
I learned these things as a Construction Contractor and as a Mechanic. You need to stand with your people. You need to fully appreciate their contribution and respect their work. One cannot expect to get results by sitting behind a desk and delivering marching orders.
Terrace has struggled as of late and the best thing Terrace has is the people. The volunteers and the business community are attempting to meet the needs but they need more support and a serious goal. What Terrace needs is someone who has not only a vision but someone who understands the roles of all the players.
And I have that in spades.
Being a Mayor is not about being a dictator and suddenly solving the worlds (Terrace’s) problems. The Mayors real job is about reflecting the wishes of those elected to the council table; the councillors. Terrace residents have 13 to choose 6 to represent their wishes. The Mayors job is to introduce the topics for discussion and ensure all Councillors have their point of view on the topic heard. He or she is not to interfere with the debate, not to interject a point of view, but to simply guide the debate to a conflict free resolution. Then once the decision is made, the Mayors role is to speak positively about the direction the Council has chosen. In truth, as was displayed at the most recent Council meeting regarding the proposal to sell the co-op lands, the mayor has very little actual power. The role is to be a facilitator, one who can manage the many perspectives. I am prepared to do that for you.
The only personal objective, other than making Terrace a much more enjoyable and prosperous community, is to invite representatives of the local first Nations Communities to send a delegate to every council meeting in Terrace. Our decisions generally affect their people. And I intend to offer a council representative from Terrace to attend meetings in local First Nations communities. We need all perspectives to cooperate effectively.
As a family, a community, working in unity, we will all prosper.
My history, my thoughts and my writings are well known and widely available.
I am Merv Ritchie. And I am at your service.
I will still write, but I will be writing about the great new changes, the new investments and the thriving economy your new Council will bring to the region. And you will be kept informed and up to date. Those who have followed my writings know, I shirk from nothing. The questions will be asked and the answers will be found.
Just like Hockeyville, the event which found its seed on this community service, we are going to take Terrace to the top, together.
Marketing alternate energy in 1988 and 1989. Top picture is an award at the Aquaculture International Exposition in 1988. Bottom left in Nanaimo, bottom right my Granville St. Office sign.
Tipi life through the 1980's. Left near Nelson BC and right near to Fording Coal on Chauncey Creek.
Merv in various life experiences 80's, 90's and 2000's. Upper left at David Thompson University in Nelson. Upper right on the Shuswap Lake. Lower left near a Pumpkin patch, & right cutting firewood.
Last month in Prince Rupert with BC Premier Christy Clark and during Hockeyville with Gordon Campbell.
Comment by TRACY on 5th November 2011
HEY MOOSEMAN...YA GOT A SANTA BEARD!!!! WOW!
Clear and focused
Comment by Diana Penner on 26th October 2011
Your objective of making Terrace a much more enjoyable and prosperous community is more than enough reason to be running for mayor. We all know that is something this community lacks. All the other background skills and knowledge you bring make you a worthy candidate and I wish you all the best.
The *Only* choice for change
Comment by M.Craven on 18th October 2011
To get Terrace back on the road to economic recovery and growth, I hope the citizens turn a new page in its history and support Mr. Ritchie in his bid to become Mayor.
If the people of Terrace wish to see substantive progress in the cities future, they will cast their vote for Mr.Ritchie.
Mr. Ritchie vows to be an agent of change. Hold him to his word and I hope voters make him the Mayor of Terrace.
A worthy history
Comment by terry on 18th October 2011
Seem perfectly qualified for the job, to me. Good luck for you, and for us hopefully.
Comment by Ian on 15th October 2011
My thoughts on a mayors job is that person needs to have vision and understanding of all people living here. To balance development and infrustructure to support for the short and lond term goals.
Terrace has been down since 1997. We are seeing some increase in business and people moving here and by all directions it is only going to get more and more people moving to the area.
It is important to note that the Mayors office does not become a puppet for the self interest of the few. Skeena Cellulos as an example.
We need leadership and focus on all aspects of the community.
As the potential Mayor you are presenting yourself as the ambassador of Terrace and the representation of our community to the world.
We need strong leadership that looks at as many avenues and intrest groups to build our community to what it once was. The ooportunity is there.
Terrace is a real jewel in the North. We are surrounded by so many positive sights and people that live in our region.
Removing some of the right wing, conservative thinking and opening to ethnic growth and diversity while driving ecomomic develpment is a key to success.
An open mind with an open door will also help.
Working in the tri-city area and focussing on industrial and tourisim development will only help us ALL prosper in our area.
Terrace was and is developed into a supply and service sectore for the Northwest, therefore we sit in the drivers seat for others to look at us as Is this the place to live, to work, to retire?
Opprotunity comes to those that open the door.
Comment by Karen on 15th October 2011
It appears that you have lived a very successful and interesting life Merv. You certainly have the background to help make Terrace successful and your candidacy for Mayor makes this election more interesting. Good luck at the polls.
Great write up
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 15th October 2011
I knew some of your history, but it's really quite interesting to learn more. Thank you for sharing this with us.