Keep jobs in the Kootenays: Coping with closure in British Columbia

Agnes Koch and John Gartrell

The East Kootenay region of the Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia has experienced the rise and fall of communities in conjunction with boom and bust conditions in the mining industry since a gold rush attracted its first Euro-Canadian settlers in the 1860s. The surviving communities, the coal mines of the Crow's Nest section of the region, and the lead, silver, and zinc mine of the Kimberley, today account for most of the area's primary economic activity. How do local residents respond to and cope with corporate decisions which ultimately affect their own individual lives as well as the economic fortunes of the locality as a whole? What does a community's reaction tell us about the nature of the relationship that exists between big companies and resource-based communities, about individual commitment to place, and about collective responses to conflicts of interest? The particular case discussed in this chapter revolved around a decision by B.C. Telephone Company (B.C. Tel) to close its operator services in Cranbrook. This followed a downturn in the mining operations in the regional communities serviced by Cranbrook, and a slight depopulation of the region. Response to this closure of a secondary service operation is interesting because residents felt they had more leverage vis-a-vis a government-regulated monopoly.

Koch, A. & Gartrell, J. (1992). 'Keep jobs in the Kootenays': Coping with closure in British Columbia. In C. Neil, M. Tykkylainen & J. Bradbury (Eds.), Coping with closure: An international comparison of mine town experiences (pp. 208-224). London; New York: Routledge.

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Book chapter
Keep jobs in the Kootenays: Coping with closure in British Columbia