Celebrations and tragedies have a way of pulling small towns together like a family. But nothing’s uglier than a fight among loved ones or a close-knit community.
There’s no question personal relationships are being strained as Lumby debates a potential bid for a correctional facility.
I have heard of individuals who oppose a prison being given the cold shoulder by people they thought were friends. In another case, an impromptu chat on the street evolved into shouting.
“My first thought when heading downtown these days is what or who am I going to run into today and what kind of response am I going to get? It is so different. It is really very sad,” said one resident.
But the growing hostility hasn’t just been one-sided.
A group of residents who favour pursuing a jail is reluctant to come forward publicly.
“Because of the ugly nature and tone some of the people from the no camp have taken, and the desire to let people speak for themselves, the organizers wish to remain anonymous,” they stated in an e-mail.
Navigating the rapids has become challenging for organizations that attempt to represent the broad-based community.
“The chamber recognizes that this issue is quite controversial and our chamber’s mandate is to represent the concerns of all of our members through an equal and democratic process,” said Bill Maltman, president of the Lumby Chamber of Commerce, which has had presentations from both sides before it attempts to form an official position on a correctional centre.
Rumours run rampant, particularly when it comes to the actions of village council. Motives on all sides are being questioned.
Now none of this is shocking in a small town.
After all, there’s always a good chance you will run into the powers-that-be shopping, over a beer at the legion or tossing rocks at the curling rink.
It’s not unusual to find people on both sides of an issue sitting next to each other at church, belonging to the same service club or having kids in class together. They may do business with each other and in some cases, they may even be part of the same family.
Everything is up-close and personal in a small town.
But despite the differences of opinion, both sides share a passion for their community. It’s based on the investment that comes from raising a family, running a business or volunteering.
If there wasn’t a sense of pride, the debate wouldn’t be as intense as it is. Both groups want what’s best for Lumby, they just can’t agree on how to get there.
While some may be quick to predict a deep rift in Lumby, I remain optimistic about the future.
Obviously some relationships may never completely heal, but most of the friendships and common interests will survive.
The Lions will prepare the campground for another season, planning will begin for Lumby Days, parents will organize fundraisers at the schools and residents from all walks-of-life will attempt to find ways to reinvigorate the economy.
The things that make Lumby “simply the best” outweigh any one issue.
And once again, small towns are just like families.
Siblings may squabble or you may not see eye-to-eye with your parents or spouse. But when push gets to shove, there is far more that ties us together than separates us. Family is family.