‘Don’t worry. Be happy!’

By the time many of you read this column, it already will be the new year.
2008 has been quite a shocker. Who would have thought that U.S. banks would fail? Who would have believed General Motors would be on the brink of bankruptcy?
I still have not had the courage to open my retirement saving statements since the end of October. Friends my age are telling me that Freedom 55 is now Freedom 85.
In cities across Canada, many who bought their homes in 2007 have seen their down payments disappear and the value of their mortgages become greater than the value of their homes.
Who would have imagined that the price of oil could surge over $145 (U.S.) per barrel and then crash to below $40 in one year. Who would have imagined the Canadian dollar going from being on par with the U.S. greenback to dropping below 80 cents in a single year?
In many areas of Canada, mining exploration is slowing and the development of new mines is drying up. Yet in our district, major international mining companies are renewing leases of claims and are spending significant amounts of money on exploration for minerals.
In 2008, we were excited that the CT Scanner would be installed at La Verendrye hospital here. We were ecstatic that AbitibiBowater would be bringing its new hog fuel boiler on stream by the end of the year.
Throughout the district, we have been pleased that our paper mill has suffered no major downtime while paper mills across the northwest have ceased operations completely.
Local agriculture producers are proving they can grow and supply the district with fresh vegetables and meat nearly year-round.
In regions throughout North America and around the globe, climate change is creating areas of drought and worry about water supplies. Not so here in Rainy River District.
Much of the length of the Depression following the stock market crash of 1929, and the subsequent failure of the banks, was that people in their worry stopped buying. Governments around the world are putting lots of cash into the system to encourage spending.
We can look forward to towns across the district seeing large sums of money made available to them for infrastructure projects by both the provincial and federal governments. In Fort Frances, we already know most of our sewer and water system is approaching the end of its expected life. We know that it will cost lots of money.
This may be the chance for communities to commit to projects that they could only dream of in the past.
For homeowners, we are likely to see significant amounts of money being added to the system to encourage home renovations. Many of the projects will encourage making homes more energy-efficient and “green.”
2009 promises to have many opportunities. We all may not be as rich as we thought we were in January, 2008, but there are many positives in our lives and where we live.
“Be happy!”

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