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EDITORIAL: Fort St. James community spirit shines again

Murray Ridge fundraiser shows how community comes together
A fundraiser at Murray Ridge Ski Area saw the community turn out in support of the beloved ski hill and raised $33,777 towards the purchase of a new ski hill groomer. (Jana Gainor photo)

The community spirit in the Omineca area runs long and deep.

People in the Murray Ridge ski hill community are usually fiercely supportive of their beautiful hill and this was once again apparent in the highly successful Murray Ridge Ski Area fundraiser on Nov. 4.

The annual fundraiser event began back in 2017, not long after Jana Gainor took the helm as the ski hill general manager in 2014. This year the event was once again sold out, with 104 tickets snapped up by supporters.

Organizers were too busy to be taking photos during the night, but the event is said to have been successful, and the proof is in the final tally, raising $33,777 towards the purchase of a new Snowcat groomer. While this is just the beginning of the funds the hill will require, it is a significant start.

A new groomer will cost in the neighbourhood of $525,000. This may seem like a lofty goal, but the ski hill has been able to make some great strides and secure some amazing grant funds over recent years, with big improvements taking place to an already stellar ski hill. The list of volunteers, community sponsors and supporters was long, with the District of Fort St. James itself providing safe rides home for the event to help make it a success.

It is incredible how much the community comes together to support the ski hill, which is truly a community hill with fantastic amenities for such a small place.

The ski hill is what helped me fall in love with Fort St. James during my time there, and it is clear the love for the ski hill runs through the community and region.

It is also a place where both Vanderhoof and Fort St. James residents seem to happily co-exist as friends and comrades.

This is something our world needs more of, community gathering places where we can come together, and recognize how much better we are together and how much more we can accomplish if we help one another out.

As we look out at the world and worry about divisions, we can appreciate how lucky we are to have these here. This is where hope lives.

This is also the beauty of an area like the Omineca.

Downhill skiing, while still not an inexpensive sport, is much more within reach and inclusive at a community-run ski hill like Murray Ridge.

Cross-country skiing is close to home and an inexpensive way to enjoy the beauty of the winter wonderland of the area.

For those wanting to stay indoors, the Pope Mountain Arts centre or Integris Community Centre can be great gathering places, where the arts are also accessible and affordable.

Despite the challenges society and our world are facing, the community spirit of places like the Omineca Region and other small communities can help show us a way forward.

Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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