A year and a half ago, the idea of moving back to Powell River was the farthest thought from Cheryl Milne’s mind. She says she loved her hometown and visited friends and family here regularly, but was content in her career and home in the Lower Mainland.
Her job as a sales representative involved frequent travel, something she enjoyed, and she was finally renovating the Langley townhouse she shared with her 11-year-old son Lucas.
On a visit back to Powell River in August 2016, Milne listed off reasons against moving back to relatives urging her to consider it.
“I said I loved having that freedom with my job as a sales rep. I’d feel claustrophobic here not being able to do that,” says Milne. “Then I got home and one of the townhouses in my complex sold for $500,000 and I was like, ‘Peace out.’”
Milne promptly listed her home and it sold within a week. She purchased a house in Powell River a few weeks later.
“I went from, ‘I’m never living here,’ to a month later moving here,” says Milne. “We went from a townhouse with no land to a house with a half an acre and garden.”
In the process of moving, Milne reached out to people she previously worked with in Powell River. Local business owner Tod English was the first person she contacted.
She recalled that 20 years earlier English had told her if she ever moved back and needed work to call him and he would help her. He kept his word and gave her a job. English said it is just the nature of this community.
“I have always said to employees that have left to call us if they return. If we don’t have any opportunities, maybe we know someone that does," says English. "Powell River is an amazing place with amazing people. It was just the right thing to do, and most people in the community would do the same.”
After settling in, a sales opportunity became available at Massullo Motors and Milne was up for the new challenge. It’s a business she is familiar with. Her mother Jenny worked for the company for 47 years, recently retiring. “We just had our Christmas party where it was my first and her last,” says Milne.
According to Milne, seeing her hometown through her son’s eyes has been the most remarkable experience of moving back. She describes him as an outdoorsy kid that was a little overwhelmed by urban life.
“For someone who grew up in the city, we rarely saw someone in a day that we knew,” says Milne. “Coming here, he said, ‘I feel so safe.’ You feel you’re part of something here and the change in him was night and day."
Having a lot of male figures in his life here has been another plus of Powell River, according to Milne.
“In the city, I hung out with a lot of single moms. Now he’s got my dad, my uncle, my cousin and he’s also made some other great connections,” says Milne.
Milne says the opportunities for her and Lucas to get involved in different activities and cultural experiences is something they never had in their previous life in the city.
“We’ve done more here than we ever did in Vancouver," she says. "We did soapbox racing up in Wildwood. We got all dressed up and went to PRISMA. All these experiences that you think people would do more in the city, we never did any of that because you’re just so busy.”
Without question, Milne says the best thing about returning has been having family close by.
“When you come back you realize life is so much easier when you have a network of people," says Milne. "I didn’t have any help in the city. Now my dad takes my dog for a walk every day, and sometimes I come home and my dishes are done. If I moved home for that one day of coming home to those clean dishes, it was worth it.”