The B.C. government has come to the financial rescue of the former coal mining town of Tumbler Ridge with a $6-million dollar grant. Mayor Clay Iles says the money will clear the town's debt and save the community, following the August closure of the Quintette Mine.
The province loaned the town $33 million in the 1980s to build houses, roads and infrastructure. Tumbler Ridge has paid back about half that debt over the last two decades.
Iles says losing the mine created a serious financial crunch. "We had the highest debt per capita of any community in British Columbia," he says, "and we've gone from that to being debt-free, and it's just a wonderful day for us."
Tumbler Ridge has also been given financial guarantees for health care and education, as it begins the re-building process. Iles says the brightest hope for the future comes from people who snapped up more than 500 houses at fire sale prices earlier this year.