A story in this week’s edition of the Hope Standard recognizing the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Coquihalla Highway (see page 5) is a snapshot in time that reveals much more than our history.
Written by Inge Wilson of the Hope Museum, the recounting of the building of the new route into the interior brings to life Hope in its heyday. It was a whole different world. The community was filled with working families; the logging and construction industries were booming. And the boom and bust surrounding one construction project didn’t matter, it was simply icing on the cake.
The new highway circled above Hope, just out of sight, out of mind. Back then keeping the traffic out of the town centre didn’t matter.
But since the eighties logging has crashed, families have moved, and shops struggle. Aside from government jobs, servicing travellers – in one way or another – is now our primary industry.
The upgraded Old Hope-Princeton Way is catching a small percentage of the Coquihalla traffic. Silver Creek struggles endlessly to support its small business sector. The Fraser Canyon fights valiantly each summer season for its meager portion of travellers.
Judging past events without considering them within the era they were conceived is unfair. But should the Coquihalla be constructed today, we would be battling for a prominent presence along the route, impressive exits into our community and signage that screams here we are and we are a great pit stop. It is a fight we still need to take on today.
Simone Rolph (Black Press)