This weekend I took my sister for a walk along the lovely Waldie Island Trail on the Brilliant side of the Columbia River in Castlegar. This time of year, the colours are stunning along the trail if you can get a sunny day.

Although a beautiful trail, it also represents an historical site for the settlement of Castlegar. As can be seen in the photo to the right, and read about in the Trails in Time page on Waldie Island Mill, this was a hub of industry on the river for many years, and was only replaced in the late 1950s with the current pulp and saw mil operations upstream by the Hugh Keenleyside Dam.


But the walk, and the current season, made me consider how we tend to hang onto things. The history of this area is interesting, and I am fascinated with the changes that have happened, whether modes of transit, industries, population or culture. As we make the transition to a lower carbon economy and the society that grows out of these changes, we must remember that nothing is static, everything changes, the way we travel, the industries, the places of work, and the means of a society.

In the past fifty years, we have witnessed and participated in the greatest misallocation of resources the world will ever see. Here in Castlegar, that has been on a relatively small scale compared to larger cities around North America, but the dominance of the automobile on society has left it’s mark for decades to come.  We need to treat this time and the culture we’ve participated in as a season, and we must move on from it. The supposed linear society we’ve come to expect isn’t playing out in many parts of North America. Communities are shrinking, wealth is diminishing by the day and unemployment statistics are on the rise. It feels like we should be better prepared for change with these stats on our horizon – but we are preoccupied with business as usual, even though most all of us would admit deep down that we can’t carry on like this forever.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.