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Learning to love living the dream

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Pemberton: all the taxes and none of the amenities .

OK, it’s kind of a crappy community catch phrase, but as they say, it has a definite feel of "truthiness" The lack of amenities here makes some folks crabby. I personally prefer not having all the bells and whistles of an overdeveloped suburb, but I’m quirky.

This is not to say I am completely against amenities. When it comes to amenities, I like some immensely. Water and sewer are a kick. So is having a town centre accessible within a few minutes of home.

I actually regularly attempt to grocery shop for a family of four on a hand-me-down circa 1992 mountain bike. Of course, this only happens in fits and spurts. Inevitably, I end up shorting on the heavier items such as gallons of milk, containers of liquid Tide and any items that come in glass jars. Squishier items, such as bread aren’t particularly backpack-friendly either. And I have yet to attempt carrying a 12 pack of $6.98 Purex double rolls under one arm as I negotiate hazards such as railway tracks and vagrant canines. The absence of these essentials often inspires rebellion and I’m soon back to shopping in the so-small-it’s-almost-OK SUV. (It’s basically a station wagon with good posture.)

That brings up another good thing: Pembertonians tend to have good posture. Sure, our teens slouch a bit and there’s always someone nursing the result of a weekend folly. In general, this is an upstanding population enhanced by the ergonomically correct footwear and a musculature derived from taking advantage of the trails, rivers, mountains and the fields in clean mountain air. And we all know that fresh air is as essential to a child’s growth as food, shelter and education.

Local education? It’s likable, too. Our schools are not perfect. But they are much more than the panic-producing Fraser Institute statistics would lead tabloid readers to believe. Our schools are small, intimate and accessible to the parents. There are excellent special needs programs and school-wide initiatives such as the proven Read Well program. Read Well has transformed Number 2 kid from a non-reader to a curious first grader who picks up condiment bottles to "sound-out" the ingredients. More importantly, without these schools packs of roving children might take to the streets of Vinyl Village.

Vinyl Village – add the ’hood to the pile of Pemberton positives. Moreover, when Vinyl Village gets its signage and officially becomes The Glen, I’ll love it just the same. Kids will still play road hockey. Families, with kids either human or hairy, will still take evening strolls on our dendrology-inspired named streets. There will still be a park that acts as an informal forum in spring to reconnect with neighbours who have been hibernating since November.

Pemberton is clearly part of the hibernation cycle. Just ask the bears you see crossing farmers’ fields in late summer trying to get their paws on salmon making their way home via the Lillooet River. (Of course, local conjecture has it that many of these wandering ursine are transported here as political prisoners from another jurisdiction.)

Seeing bears, deer and other wildlife is inspiring, but I view from a distance because of health concerns. At best, I figure I could survive an altercation with an annoyed squirrel. A human-squirrel conflict would likely result in injuries that would allow for full treatment at our medical clinic. With its young staff that features a number of both excellent and witty health practitioners, the Pemberton Medical Clinic and the adjacent physicians’ practice is the antithesis to a world where the family doctor is becoming a thing of the past.

Pemberton is a small town without the support of major industry. Until grow ops are legalized, I don’t know if we’ll see an easy path to prosperity. There’s a nascent tourism industry, niche agriculture and a drastically reduced logging industry. I have no idea what the logging industry’s future is, I just know there are not the jobs there were and this has had a profound effect on some long-term families. I suspect both organics and tourism will grow, but unfortunately not quickly enough for some people.

Economically things are stagnant and people are working hard to hold onto what they have. We need to leverage our considerable environmental and social capital.

We’re a small community and need to take small steps. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t put plans in place for the future. We have to invest in the belief that from adversity comes opportunity and lose the fear that keeps us from seizing opportunities. What if our town motto became: Pemberton: The Telecommuters Paradise?

Dream big, it doesn’t cost anymore. But while we’re working toward realizing the big dream, let’s try to enjoy living the small one.

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