Q&A with Tumbler Ridge EDO, Jordan Wall

October 28, 2014

Jordan Wall
Tough times have descended upon the District of Tumbler Ridge since Tumbler Ridge’s coal mines, which are the community’s largest employer, were recently placed on care and maintenance. We got in touch with Jordan Wall, Tumbler Ridge’s new economic development officer, to chat about what the District’s key strategic priorities are to help the local economy flourish again.

Q How have you developed a strategy to move the dial on economic development in your community?

A: The focus of Tumbler Ridge and its council has been to find ways to diversify our economy. We understand the boom and bust cycle of the coal industry but feel that Tumbler Ridge has so much more to offer than that. The focus on building our tourism industry and being named the second Geopark in Canada has certainly helped in this mission. We have also connected with other industries bringing a 140 megawatt wind power project online and helping Pattern Energy to develop their new 185 megawatt wind project.

Q:Being a born-and-raised Tumbler Ridge resident, how do you feel your community has developed over the years, and what do you envision for the future of Tumbler Ridge?

A: When I was born in Tumbler Ridge, the community was completely dependent on the coal industry that owned most of the houses. The Northeast was a very different place as well. Since that time dinosaur fossils were discovered in Tumbler Ridge that recently proved that the mighty T-Rex, despite what you saw in Jurassic Park, was a pack hunter. Tumbler Ridge has the opportunity to become a much larger community. With the proper preparation to handle the boom that is coming our way if Site C, wind or LNG projects are approved, we stand to grow significantly.

Q:You moved away from Tumbler Ridge for several years to pursue other career opportunities. What brought you back?

A: I was blessed with the opportunity to work in South Korea and Japan allowing me to travel and see the world. I wanted to come back to the north for the economic opportunities it provided. I chose Tumbler Ridge because it is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever been to and there was no debate in my mind about where I wanted to raise a young family.

Q:Tumbler Ridge’s coal mines have all been placed on care and maintenance recently, resulting in significant job loss in the community. What is the District’s approach to getting the local economy back on track?

A: The news of the shutdowns came as a shock and hit us hard but we have been working diligently to create a made in Tumbler Ridge solution. We will be meeting with six Provincial ministers in the coming months to see what can be done to see us through this transition. Reaching out to the business community has also been important. It is easy to lose contact with the disparate projects around Tumbler Ridge when the big coal companies are operating. Tumbler Ridge is more than just coal.

Q:How have developing major projects helped to diversify the local economy and are there other opportunities for wind energy projects in the area to be developed?

A: The prospect for further wind energy in Tumbler Ridge is immense. A new 185 megawatt wind project will begin construction in the spring of 2015. This will come at a very important time for the businesses in our community and those employees looking for work. Although the coal mines are in maintenance mode for the time being, the Quality wind project is still operating. It may not provide the same economic impact as a coal mine, but the jobs are secure.

Q:What advice do you have for young professionals seeking rewarding careers in the Peace region?

A: Coming to the north will be the best decision you can make with your career. The potential for young hard working individuals to succeed is larger here than anywhere else in Canada. The continued economic growth of the region will only increase these opportunities. Employers, no matter the sector, are looking for people who will come in and take charge of their jobs and projects. In this expanding but understaffed regional economy it is easier for someone to make their mark. As has always been true in history, expansion creates opportunities for those willing to take them.