Residents gather around the Christmas tree in Spences Bridge. (Photo credit: Kim Cardinal)

Residents gather around the Christmas tree in Spences Bridge. (Photo credit: Kim Cardinal)

Spences Bridge residents come together in spirit of resilience

Despite the summer’s fires and recent flooding, the town is still very much alive

The community of Spences Bridge wants everyone to know that despite the recent flooding that has affected the area, the town is still there, and residents have come together to carry on.

While the town itself did not suffer any losses during the summer’s fires or, more recently, the devastating flooding, the same cannot be said for many living near Spences Bridge. “The recent floods have affected our neighbours in Kumsheen and along Highway 8 very seriously,” says Joris Ekering, president of the Spences Bridge Community Club.

He notes that people living along the Nicola River and Highway 8 to the east of town have had to evacuate, and are now scattered in a dozen places, while the closure of Highway 1 through the canyon and Highway 8 has made Spences Bridge “a bit of a ghost town.”

“We appreciate people to the north of us still coming for a visit or a meal at the Packing House. Steve and Paulet [Rice ,who own the Packing House] have lost access to their Secret Garden farm, so may be faced with losses all next year in fruit and veggies.

“So what does a community do to survive? We show spirit and resilience. How? By showing we are not defeated. Not by a long shot.”

The Community Club continued with a number of scheduled events, including a Ham and Turkey Bingo night that was attended by regulars who came from as far away as their temporary homes in Kamloops. “Safety Mart in Ashcroft got us the required prizes; thanks to Victor and staff! Although the attendance was low, we still came out ahead to support the club for maintenance of Clemes Hall. We also received some emergency funding through the TNRD, thanks to Steve.”

There was also the annual lighting of the community Christmas Tree. “The tree was proudly recycled from the tree that was on Alf Trill’s Christmas parade float for the Ashcroft HUB. Thank you! Many locals assembled around the fire pit (thank you Paul Miller), and Carol Madden was on hand with the Hospice Society butterflies for ‘in memoriam’ tree ornaments.”

And the annual Christmas Bazaar went ahead as planned, with Ekering noting that the event was very successful. “People were very generous while raising funds to keep Clemes Hall open for another year. Thanks to all the volunteers!”

Ekering says that while Spences Bridge might be quiet due to the loss of TELUS infrastructure along Highway 8, the town is still very much alive.

“It’s possible to live without telephone, internet, and TV like in the 1970s, but it’s inconvenient. Steve made daily trips to the Last Spike viewpoint towards Ashcroft to pick up messages, news, and information at the first location that was possible. Chief Christine Minnabarriet from Cooks Ferry also kept us informed. Thanks to leaders like them, we got Ministry of Transportation information about their progress on Highway 8.

“Helicopters rescued people and animals from Highway 8, and brought volunteers back to winterize homes that were otherwise inaccessible. We can only hope that further damage has been avoided.

“We have a lot of people to thank, whether they’re mentioned here or not.”

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Spences Bridge