Fraser Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart is renewing her call for “answers and action” for fire evacuees from Lytton.
It’s been 115 days since the fire that destroyed the town and killed two people. She has sent four letters and “countless emails” to Premier John Horgan, she said, and multiple questions have been raised in the House.
“[The] government is no closer to answering our constituents’ important questions on when interim housing will be provided and when recovery supports and services will be in place,” she said.
“It’s horrendous,” she told The Hope Standard during an interview at the newspaper. She was just returning from the first week back in Victoria, where she spoke on behalf of her constituents affected by this summer’s fires.
She said the evacuees are “incredibly frustrated” with the lack of support they’re getting from the government. No secure housing has been established, and no actioni plan is available. A short term plan has recently been given to the community from the Fraser Basin Council.
“People still do not have full access to their own properties,” Tegart said.
Tegart is hearing that Lytton evacuees want to be a part of the process to rebuild, beginning with planning. And she agrees they should be involved in the rebuild.
While the fire was catastrophic, she said, the community has a chance to rebuild better than ever.
“Now there is a chance to look at what people want, what people value and what makes it home,” she said.
In the legislature on Oct. 25, she spoke about the devastation the community is still reeling from, and put it into context.
“There are tens of thousands of British Columbians who are still dealing with the anger and the loss that these wildfires brought to our communities,” she said, including “hundreds of residents in my riding that call Lytton home – the displaced, the lost, the hurt, those who feel completely abandoned and ignored by this government.”
“To the horror of the world, two people perished, but this was only the beginning,” Tegart said. She said evacuees are still living in spare bedrooms of their families and friends, bunking on couches and staying in motels scattered around the province.
“They have no clue when they’ll be able to return to their homes, or have a permanent roof over their heads,” she said. “They lost their land, their places of employment, their hospital and critical emergency services.”
Some businesses have re-opened or set up in temporary locations in Lytton, but there are still major infrastructure issues throughout the small town.
While Tegart was in Hope she met up with officials here to get a sense of how the town is doing. She met with Mayor Peter Robb and the district’s CAO John Fortoloczky. She also had a quick tour of the Hope Ready Mix plant, the work being done on Othello Road, and a site for the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
“Hope always impresses me,” she said after the tour.
“Part of the job I love the most is the people stuff,” she said, “talking to community leaders, and people providing services, people with projects going, and with COVID there has been very little of that.”
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.