Looking back over the past year we see a lot of new beginnings in Burns Lake.
The new Babine Forest Products milll is taking in logs and is slated to be operating early in the new year. The Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena expansion and facility upgrades are well-underway and the form of the new addition has taken shape.
The construction site of the new Lakes District Hospital seems transformed weekly, with exposed laminate timber beams installed and the second floor steel framing almost complete.
Phase one of the downtown revitalization project was completed, seemingly without a hitch. Construction was kept mostly to nighttime hours. It was a always interesting to go to work in the morning and see how much work had been done while most were sleeping.
Volunteers and community groups had a great year as well.
The Decker Lake community hall and the Trout Creek hall both celebrated the completion of extensive interior and exterior renovations this year.
The Lakes District Fall Fair celebrated its seventieth anniversary by bringing in some of its largest crowds ever to the Eagle Creek fair grounds. The Eagle Creek grounds themselves received significant upgrades thanks to community support, volunteer hours and help from the Nechako Kitamaat Development Fund.
Most recently, the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 50, found its feet again after a close call with being disbanded. A group of new and experienced volunteers rallied to support the 85-year old Burns Lake institution.
A number of Burns Lake businesses celebrated significant anniversaries as well, like Home Hardware, Lakes District Printing, Lino’s Sales Ltd, and Lakes District Maintenance.
The Village of Burns Lake itself celebrated 90 years of incorporation. With all that is going on within and outside of its municipal boundaries, it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
For the first time in 100 years, new totems went up in the Burns Lake area as Wet’suwet’en First Nation raised two totems at their new health clinic west of Burns Lake.
The Burns Lake Mountain Bike Association had a milestone year, winning accolades for its trails by being named as a Canada’s first Ride Centre by the International Mountain Biking Association.
The designation is also a recognition of Burns Lake as a destination community for mountain bikers were they will find more than just good trails. That same combination of great trails and a great community also inspired Canadian travel writer Robin Esrock to place Burns Lake mountain biking in the top three of his 25 essential Canadian outdoor adventures.
The Lakes District Festival of the Performing Arts held its fifty-sixth season of performances in Burns Lake this past year.
The list of personal milestones, birthdays, anniversaries is too long to include here, but they are an important part of the community fabric.
It can be easy to quickly forget or pass over the high points of the past year as the glow of success or achievement is often overshadowed by life’s tragedies and traumas.
Controversy often dominates newspaper headlines and personal conversations, as do contentious issues or feared outcomes. But it’s important to take a break from the heavy task of confronting whatever challenges us and to reflect on why any of it matters in the first place.
When I think of Burns Lake I think of great community with quiet leaders who do most of their work in the background without asking for anything in return other than to share in the joy it brings to the community.
They emerge occasionally to be publicly honoured or recognized, like John Rempel recently was by the province for his tireless dedication to public safety and search and rescue in the Burns Lake area, but it’s always obvious that public honour or recognition had nothing to do with their dedication.
Their dedication is to the community that inspires them. In that sense, there is little surprise that so many great things are happening in Burns Lake.
Burns Lake is an inspiring community, and we wish you all the best in 2014.