EDITORIAL: An Open Letter to Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
March 19th, 2009

Dear Mayor Bogs:

We here at the Rossland Telegraph, along with many other Rosslanders, were saddened and disappointed to hear recently that Trail City Council has submitted a letter to School District 20 advocating the termination of K-12 education in Rossland. We believe strongly that when times are tough – and they are getting tough around here – communities should pull together and not try to tear each other apart.

In the circulatory system of a small town, the school is a main artery. Cut it and the life blood of the community begins to drain – with potentially tragic consequences. And, for what it’s worth, the blood doesn’t drain down the side of a (red) mountain only to magically re-circulate at lower elevations. No, it seeps into the ground and what was once living…dies. This is the real risk behind what you are calling for, Mr. Bogs.

And speaking of the word ‘drain’, we believe that was the word you used in your letter to describe the effect of RSS on district resources. We’d like to address that issue, if we may. When we conceptualize education and community, we feel it’s important that money be seen as the means to an end, not an end in itself. If we took the ‘cost-cutting’ philosophy of some provincial and federal governments to their logical extreme, we’d end up shutting down most of our schools.

And we should all wonder: whose school might be next?

Community life comes first, money second. That’s how we see things around here. Surely, as the mayor of another small town, you agree? You’re right to say that RSS has been an expensive school to run and you’re right: that issue does need addressing, but gutting Rossland isn’t the answer—or it’s a very poor one. There are other options, like a new community school concept: more cost-effective, flexible, and light on its feet. The start up costs would be covered by the province and the result would be a much cheaper school to operate.

Such a school would help build our community, not shrink it. And if Rossland grows, Trail grows, just as if Trail grows, so does Rossland. Our relationship is symbiotic, not parasitical. Hurt us and you surely hurt your own town. Isn’t this obvious?

Some angry souls will claim that Trail’s own declining school population is the reason behind your letter – that you want to pacify Trail fears by trying to fill Crowe with Rosslanders in the hope of avoiding, in the future, the same fate you appear to wish upon us right now.

We’d like not to believe this.

If worst ever came to worst and Teck lost a shift or shut down completely, Trail’s population would shrink dramatically. And soon enough someone with an eagle eye on the purse strings would start saying, ‘Let’s ship those Trail kids up to Castlegar or Nelson and save a buck’. And soon enough, all our kids would be going to school in Nelson (they’ve merged school districts once, why not again?). We suspect you and your fellow Trail-ites wouldn’t approve of this. Why, then, should we?

If and when the time comes that Crowe is threatened, we assure you that we’ll step forward and offer our support for the efforts you will surely be making at that time to save your high school. And we’d like it if you would do the same for us now.

The enemy here, if there is one, isn’t Rossland. The enemy is a ‘philosophy’ that tries to pin a dollar value to every human activity. Some call this phenomenon ‘the commodification of the human soul’. This enemy sells jobs (smelter jobs, even) overseas to poorly paid people in the Third World for the sake of a saved dollar. This enemy busts unions. This enemy says that if it costs more, it’s evil and if you can’t place a dollar value on it, it’s worthless. This enemy doesn’t care about community and doesn’t give a damn about kids and families. It only cares about the bottom line and offers up a cheap and debased vision of life. Ultimately, it’s the enemy that Jonathan Swift wrote about in “A Modest Proposal”.

We’re doing our best up here to oppose this enemy as it comes sniffing for us. We know what it feels like to be under threat as a community and we’ll oppose this enemy if it ever comes for the kids of Trail.

How about you?


The Rossland Telegraph

Categories: Op/Ed

Other News Stories