Mayor's Musings for November 2023—By Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford
Mayor's Musings for November 2023
by Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford
In Memory of Erik Kliment
I want to open by extending my deepest condolences to the family of my highly respected friend and long-serving District of Elkford employee, Erik Kliment. Erik was a fine human being who exemplified kindness and integrity in all that he did; he always made time for me, whether it was on a stage covered in musical equipment, over at his mom’s place, or while he was at work.
District of Elkford flags were lowered to half-mast to honour and commemorate the life of Erik Kliment. He will live on in the memory of many, many people and his sudden passing signifies a great loss to his family, friends, colleagues and community.
Mine Ownership Developments
It is difficult to think of much else when we are mourning the loss of one of our own, but I want to acknowledge recent developments relating to Teck Resources selling its coal properties to Glencore/Nippon Steel/POSCO.
My friends, don’t fall into the fear-mongering downward spiral. The sale won’t be complete until this time next year, so we will all have to resist the rumour mill and the urge to jump on that bandwagon in the meantime. Remember that it’s not the first time we have seen ownership change at mining operation sites in the Elk Valley. It likely won’t be the last one, either.
The world needs steel-making coal—and our valley has the best there is—so I predict that coal will be mined in the Elk Valley for a good career’s worth of years. Jobs will exist, they’ll be well-paying, and Elk Valley Resources (EVR) will continue to invest in environmental research and community well-being. This is neither a good nor bad thing that has happened—it’s just a thing.
Glencore has agreed to continue at current or increased rates with their research into environmental issues and local social issues, non-profits and community development. The new company—EVR—has a stated position of honouring all existing agreements with Indigenous Nations and has also stated that they’ll be a major contributor to improvements in both renal medicine and the oncology department at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook.
EVR is also on record saying that they’ll “maintain significant employment levels in Canada with no net reduction in the number of employees in the business in Canada …”. Yes, this may be a weasel word or two, but it is standard legal language.
Are you familiar with the Serenity Prayer? You know, the one that says “… grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”? I hope we can all remember this when things feel turbulent: don’t sweat what you can’t change.
This sale was inevitable and beyond our control. Don’t lose any sleep over it. If you are in a union, talk to your leadership. I’m not worried. I’m going to approach this change as an opportunity for Elkford, and I hope you will too.
Hope and Healthcare
With grief weighing heavily on many residents in our community—and times of change raising concern—I’d like to try and end this on a high note. As best as I can manage, anyway.
The Kootenay East Regional Hospital District (KERHD) has been a surprisingly effective avenue of healthcare advocacy for us over the last 12 months—which means hopefully good news to come.
Without giving all the details, we were allocated an additional 0.25 full-time equivalent physician (as of July 1, 2023), and Elkford is gaining the attention of KERHD and Interior Health. Council is concentrating efforts on advocating for staffing and the service delivery model in Elkford, which looks like focusing on different approaches and on areas where Elkford can exert some influence on the future of our local health care services.
On this note, I will sign off. It is never an easy thing to move forward during times of change—or after a great loss—but we will do our best. That is, after all, all one can do.