Jeff Burgar

Last week, we commented on a real estate “boom” happening in many small cities and big towns across Canada. It’s all due to sky-high home prices in some places, combined with business and government willing to accept “work from home” policies.

Is this whole transition sustainable in the long run? In places like Fairview and Peace River, Alberta, it is nice to think so.

Populations in most rural communities are flat, or barely growing. The smallest of hamlets and villages, unless based on a lake or mountain recreation area, are dwindling away as farms get bigger and bigger. Slightly larger centres are hanging on, partly because of low living costs,. Plus, their nearby larger centres increasingly have the shopping and service “amenities” people want, and the major recreation opportunities are also close by. Make no mistake, there is a great life to be had in much of rural Canada.

But for many, the first and biggest attraction in a community is employment. It makes no sense to live in Canmore, or Jasper, if one does not have money coming in. All Five Pillars of a Community do not all go hand in hand. Living off the grid deep in the bush might appeal to certain people. But there are no schools or health care. Maybe recreation is fantastic, and the “community” has no crime, and living off the land is fine so no job is needed. The lifestyle just isn’t for everybody.

Jobs however, can turn the most remote of communities into bustling places. This is proven time after time when resource communities are created from scratch. For many of us, small towns are perfect. That was the case in Vegreville, Alberta. Vegreville was home to a great experiment in government job creation. Almost 300 people worked at a big federal government remote work centre there. This was the Citizenship Case Processing Centre, or CPC. The CPC pushed paper for a huge number of people immigrating to Canada. All business handled by mail, internet or telephone. What could go wrong?

This item is reprinted with permission from the High Prairie, AB, South Peace News. For the complete article, click HERE

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