Residents of the burned-out village of Lytton have reached day 99 since a wildfire swept through, and they are waiting to move beyond emergency assistance, B.C. Premier John Horgan was told Thursday.
Fraser Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart called on Horgan to make good on commitments he made when they flew over the fire scene days after the June 30 fire struck and caused residents to flee for their lives. Other fires sparked evacuations in the Cariboo, Okanagan, and Kootenays, and other communities including Monte Lake near Kamloops also lost homes and businesses. But Lytton was the most sudden and complete.
“They lost their hospital, their village office, their RCMP station, their post office, their fire hall, their bank, their grocery store, their library. In fact, they lost their whole main street,” Tegart told the B.C. legislature Oct. 7. “The fire moved so fast that many residents got out with only the clothes on their back. Two residents perished that day. Hundreds lost homes. Businesses were burned to the ground. Public services were incinerated, and the community looks like a war zone.”
Horgan replied there are still “toxins in the ground” at Lytton and multiple ministries are working on recovery with local governments. “I stand ready to work with her in the community to make sure we can rebuild as quickly as possible,” he said. “But it does take time to make sure the cleanup is done appropriately, to support the municipal leaders who are struggling as well.”
Tegart said the displaced residents don’t know what work is being done beyond emergency services, as they reach 100 days living in hotels and motels.
“If you’re doing your level best, my God we’re in trouble,” Tegart said.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he expects to have the recovery plan for Lytton by Oct. 15, and he will share it with Tegart when it arrives. The former administrator of Kelowna has been brought in, and the federal government is working with the community and the adjacent Lytton First Nation, he said.
“In the meantime, the Minister of Municipal Affairs has ensured that there is capacity within the city itself to help deal with the situation in terms of establishing services and re-establishing their capacity to function as a village,” Farnworth said.