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Lytton celebrates official opening of interim RCMP detachment

Detachment is first public building to be rebuilt after June 2021 wildfire that destroyed the town

Nearly 34 months after the fire that destroyed nearly 90 per cent of the community, residents of Lytton joined dignitaries on April 25 to celebrate the official opening of the community’s interim RCMP detachment: the first public building to be rebuilt in the town.

The RCMP detachment on Main Street was one of the many buildings lost during the Lytton Creek wildfire on June 30, 2021. Three of the officers stationed in Lytton at the time of the fire — including detachment commander Sgt. Scott Clay, who had arrived six months before the fire — also lost their homes.

Clay says that after the fire he moved to Lillooet — where he is also the detachment commander — and Lytton and the surrounding area were policed out of a combined office based in Lillooet. “We put the two offices together as one regionalized office so we could support the area.”

The new temporary building arrived in October 2022, and was assembled between then and January 2023 on a new site on Highway 12. Members began working out of it in January/February 2023 while it was being outfitted, and an official opening was planned for September, but was postponed because of the wildfire situation in the province, particularly the nearby Kookipi Creek wildfire, which prompted an evacuation alert for Lytton and the surrounding area.

The detachment has five officers (a corporal and four constables) and two staff members working out of it on a regular basis. Clay notes that the building has been designed and outfitted so that it can also serve as a command post for any major event in the area, from Boston Bar to Ashcroft, and can accommodate other first responders who might need to use it.

“The Village of Lytton is pleased to see the opening of the interim Lytton detachment,” said Mayor Denise O’Connor at the April 25 ceremony.

“Having an RCMP presence in the community supports safety and resilience. This is a significant step forward to restoring essential services for Lytton, and we look forward to the permanent detachment being rebuilt.”

The RCMP is in the planning stages of building a permanent detachment in Lytton, in consultation with the community, but Clay says that in the meantime the interim detachment, and the return of officers to their new homes in Lytton, offers hope to residents and reinforces the RCMP’s commitment to the area and its residents.

“It’s hugely important to the community. They like knowing that they have local, ‘in-house’ community members providing an essential emergency service to them.

“We never really left. Even during the fire and the evacuations we had a uniformed presence here, but they were support coming in from Kelowna, Vernon, the Lower Mainland. When the in-house members came back I think it offered a nice sense of relief to the community. [The local members] know who ‘Joe’ is. They know where ‘Smith Street‘ is. It’s one of the wonders of small-town policing. You get to know who’s who, and they get to know who you are, and it offers them a big sense of comfort.”