Regional Rundown: Accepting change in ever-changing town

There is one thing that most people don’t like — CHANGE. It really should be a four letter word.

“All things must come to an end.” Recently, this phrase was used by the owners of the Toby Theatre in Invermere, after successfully operating the theatre for the last 43 years. The same is true of the Regional Rundown columns. As we begin to ramp up into the election cycle, these will be gone for now as well.

Whether it is the closure of the Toby Theatre (let’s hope there are some other future options and this is not the final closure), the renovations at Cenotaph Park, the re-painting of the parking lines in the “lakeview parking lot” (the parking area behind the liquor store), or even some of the work along the side of Pot Hole Park and 7th Avenue in Invermere, there is one thing that most people don’t like — CHANGE. It really should be a four letter word.

Let’s be clear; not all change is good. Some things change when they shouldn’t, some things change in the wrong way, but whether we like it or not, most things are going to change. It’s almost always inevitable. The question is: how are things going to change, who is going to guide change, who has the vision to see the outcome of change and know that it is worth the temporary pains during construction to see the final outcome occur? That’s why elections are so important, and choosing the right people to fill the various positions is key.

One of the changes around change is the role that social media, especially Facebook, play.  Facebook provides some real time “news” of a more minor and local level, and it allows for heated debates. It also allows a great deal of people to stay in touch with friends from a long ago, and even keep tabs on what is happening in places they used to live or, for example, in little towns they grew up in but left for the fame and fortune of larger cities.

The “former residents” on Facebook are the first to cry out against change, as they are coming at things from the perspective of remembering a place being a certain way (it is debatable if it was ever exactly how they remember it now), and even though they may have no plans to visit such a place, or ever live there again… “how dare they cut down a tree or how dare that theatre, that I have never given money to or supported for over 15 years, close.”

From my experience, whether it is the heated deer issue or other issues, the former residents on Facebook commenting and getting involved in real time issues in a community they don’t live in… well, it is really time consuming, emotionally draining… and kind of pointless?

It is great that people still feel a connection to their hometown or place they once lived, but when that connection is tied to the belief that “nothing should ever change”, the input is not really useful and the underlying belief is bound to lead to disappointment. Of course things are going to change.

One of the unique experiences I have been able to have in my life is being born in Invermere.  Most people arrive or buy a second home on a certain date and that often becomes the date they remember the place and how they want it to stay forever. Having grown up here, most of my memories are of things changing — different businesses and buildings coming and going. I don’t have a defined point in time when I think of Invermere. It has always been and always will be changing to me. I have had the great pleasure of working on Invermere council for the last twelve years, the most recent six as Mayor and Director on the Regional District of East Kootenay board. Over those twelve years, I have been able to help guide and direct some of the changes, and granted with the 20/20 vision of history, not every decision is perfect. I do know that we have always made the best decisions we could make with the information we had at the time.

There are more changes this fall coming as some people decide to run or not to run, and some people will win and others will not. I look forward to the opportunity to run for the position of Mayor again, and hope that I can continue to be part of the changes.

Gerry Taft is mayor of the District of Invermere and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley. He can be reached at taft.gerry@gmail.com .

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