ALLIE NICHOL/STAFF WRITER
It is on a sad note I pen my last column here at Coast Reporter. No excited exit here, just one of obligation and pursuit of other opportunities only the city can offer.
The decision was not an easy one. Upon graduation last year, I knew there was a good chance of moving out of Vancouver to a smaller community to get my feet wet in the wild world of journalism — and I was happy to come here.
The Sunshine Coast may be small, but it is no small town with stereotypical small town thinking.
I agree with my predecessor Brent Richter, who in his exit column said Coast Reporter is the perfect training ground for a green reporter. He couldn’t have said it better.
I have been lucky enough to cover a wide array of topics and continue to be blown away by the passion in the community. People here will certainly tell you what they think, both positive and negative sides. Even the negative is something I’m grateful for, as I’ve learned to develop a thick skin — one, as a fresh graduate, I was in need of.
While I have covered a variety of issues, I’d be lying if I said every story I’ve written is near and dear to my heart, but many will certainly stick with me.
I will never forget covering a Gibsons bylaw meeting and hearing a resident refer to renters in the neighbourhood as “undesirables.”
I think I’ve discussed that one over drinks at Smitty’s too many times to count. But, that’s what makes this community so special — everyone has the right to share their opinion — and share they do.
So, while I may not exactly get fiery in this column, I am going to take advantage of the right to free speech and share some opinions I have formed during my time here.
Coasters, please stop fearing change. This wonderful, beautiful place you call home is in need of economic development in order to keep it wonderful and beautiful. I toyed with the idea of getting a second job to help pay down student debt, but it was challenging to find anything Coast-based. I looked into maybe taking a course or two in the future to keep on working towards my degree, but the courses offered locally are very limited. Trying to find a place to rent was challenging as well — no need to dive into that one, as everyone is well aware of the housing issue.
By no means am I trashing the Coast by making these remarks. Those issues are prevalent in every community, big or small. What makes the Sunshine Coast unique is the people here are working to make it a better place. They do a damn fine job, but seem to get caught up in the red tape of slow government decisions or the feet-dragging of residents resistant to even the slightest bit of change.
I hate to break it to the naysayers, but this place is going to grow one way or another. Embrace the genius planners and developers here who want to make sure it grows in the right way, a sustainable way, or the only “undesirable” thing you will have is every person under 40 lining up for the ferry to escape narrow-minded ideas.
While there are aspects of city life I’m looking forward to, such as the ability to walk to a pub for a beer, go to a deli for a proper bagel, and walk my dog without worrying about bears, I can say I will truly miss Coast life and hope to one day return.
Thank you to my wonderful coworkers and the community at large for my experience here. Keep up the good work, work together on all fronts, keep the youth here, and build a bright, vibrant Coast.
I’ll wave with gratitude from the ferry.