Stodalka: Looking back on the year that was

Reporter Reflections

The Peace Region is one that’s changing rapidly, and that means we never have a shortage of stories here at the Alaska Highway News.

At the beginning of 2015, the Peace River Valley was still pristine. Since last July, it’s been razed to make way for electricity. It could be stopped in the courts, but that’s going to be a difficult, long battle.

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Site C is something that’s been debated for years, long before I was born in 1986.

The debate, up until last July, only existed on paper and in thoughts, two “what-if” scenarios that were important, but to an outside observer, the Peace River Valley looked the same as it ever was.

Now, about $8.8 billion worth of work is set to start. This was a historically significant date. Even if the project is still aborted, people will still remember that date as a important for the region.

The debate will still go on whether or not it was the right decision to make.

At the start of the year, internet hacktivist group Anonymous didn’t know or care where Dawson Creek was. But after a police shooting, the eyes of the Internet were turned here — and may be for some time.

At the start of the year, our local MP was part of a majority government. Now, he’s in the new position of acting as a minority MP, in a country whose laws and foreign affairs will likely be much different than the one he was first elected to represent.

After nearly nine years of Conservative rule, Bob Zimmer retained his seat, despite some debate gaffes and the sea of Liberal red that overtook the country.

With this new party in charge, we could see legalized marijuana, less First Nations public financial information, more rigorous environmental standards, and freer federal scientists. All of this will have a role over the next few years.

At the beginning of the year, South Peace MLA Mike Bernier was a backbencher. Now, he has become Minister of Education. As MLA, he campaigned against a change in school bus funding that left local School Districts furious, and rural parents with bigger bills. Now, he’ll either have to abandon that promise, or else try and find a way to help out his local constituents without angering the other school districts who benefitted from the change in funding.

The year wasn’t all politics, though. There was the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, where Dawson Creek and Fort St. John got to see the world’s best young players and potential future superstars compete. When covering this, I saw how volunteers stepped up and made the North Peace Arena look worthy of Madison Square Garden.

And there were the countless examples of generosity and donations towards the groups that helped out the needy in the community. They may not have always made the front page, but they helped out those who needed it, and showed what great communities Fort St. John and Dawson Creek could be.

While the Peace Region may be changing, the good character of its people has not.

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