A recent trip to Kamloops hospital so that my wife could have a procedure performed reminded me of how many government services we are losing from Williams Lake and the greater Cariboo-Chilcotin community.
School closures, Forest Service closures, and who knows what other things the government has quit or will quit providing services for. Requiring us to travel great distances for a procedure that at one time might have been performed here in Williams Lake is a definite reminder of how important it is to have a growing, rather than a declining, population in this centralized community.
The recent driver’s licence issue for senior drivers being required to travel to Prince George, Kamloops, or even Kelowna to take a driving exam reflects upon the lack of importance the government is placing on this former centralized Cariboo community. As this community loses population to the changing trend in the forest industry, the population will be increasingly required to travel further and further afield to obtain services that were once available locally.
For my wife and I, as senior citizens to travel to Kamloops, the cost for this travelling comes out of limited pension funding. Is this not indirect taxation? For somebody living in, say, the West Chilcotin, the cost to travel to distant centres including overnight stays can and could be quite overwhelming.
It is hard to believe, but my son had to take his son to Vanderhoof to have his tonsils removed. Many people have to travel great distances to have cancer treatment, heart surgery, and joint replacement; the procedure may be covered but transportation and overnight or longer stays for concerned family members is not covered.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, are we doing all we can to help Williams Lake regain its former premium and important role as a centralized community serving the greater Cariboo and Chilcotin? If we are not doing all that we can do, are we not at the same time indirectly increasing the personal tax burden and life stress on our aging population for them and their families being required to travel further and further afield for services and treatment?
We may not like speaking up for some forms of economic development in this greater area; however, without population growth we will continue to lose currently available services at an increasing personal cost.