Amid all the talk about rebuilding Lytton following the fire that destroyed much of the village on June 30 — about which more anon — there has been something missing, in my opinion. I am therefore offering this modest proposal: that someone (the feds? the Province?) needs to appoint a Lytton supremo to take charge of the entire project.
“Supremo” is a very useful British term, and is used informally to refer to someone who is in overall charge of an organization or activity. This person almost certainly has a formal title that carries with it a certain gravitas, but “supremo” nicely encapsulates the position.
The supremo is the person on whose desk the buck stops. He or she (the supremo is usually a “he”, so I’ll use that term, but there’s no reason a woman couldn’t do the job) is the public face of the project: think John Furlong and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He has his finger on the pulse, the ear of everyone who matters, and a marvelous ability to herd cats.
The supremo is a big picture kind of guy, who has has hired a crack team of people to manage all aspects of the project. Do you need a fleet of dump trucks to remove the tons of rubble from Lytton, and then find somewhere to take it? The supremo will know who is in charge of that and delegate accordingly, while greasing the appropriate wheels to expedite things. Looking for temporary longish-term housing for evacuees? The supremo has someone on his team whose job is to arrange that and make sure it goes smoothly. Coordinating all the offers of support and recovery funding pouring in? The supremo has a person whose job is to do just that, and then make sure things get where they need to go, pronto. Getting the necessary permits for rebuilding? The supremo will make sure that happens.
And let’s talk about that rebuilding. Much needs to happen before that begins, but the supremo is already reaching out to the right people worldwide, because he realizes there is an opportunity for Lytton to be a world leader when it comes to building for the 21st century. Lori Daniels, a professor in the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia, has said that First Nations, the municipality, and the provincial and federal governments need to work together with experts to redesign the community, using building materials like metal for roofs and fire-resistant shingles instead of wood, so future wildfires won’t be as devastating.
That is wonderful, as far as it goes; as far as it goes, but — as Charles Dickens noted in David Copperfield — it don’t go far enough. In addition to fire-resistant building materials, the rebuilding of Lytton could incorporate the latest, most groundbreaking energy efficient technology we have, as well as clean energy sources for heating and cooling. Lytton is already known as Canada’s hot spot; it could also be Canada’s solar capital, and a model for projects around the world in a multitude of ways.
The supremo is the person who coordinates that and makes sure it happens. He has (or makes) the contacts, and has the team to get it done. He creates order out of what could become chaos.
This is not an “off the side of the desk” job; this is a full-time position, laser-focused on one thing. If you met the supremo somewhere and casually asked what he did for a living, or what his job was, he would reply simply “Lytton.” That’s it; but that one word contains multitudes.
Will this happen? Who knows? It would take a fair bit of money and political will to appoint a Lytton supremo and the necessary team, and keep it all going for the years that rebuilding Lytton will undoubtedly take. Could it happen? Well, the answer to that is a definite “Yes.” It could happen. More to the point, it should happen. Here’s hoping that someone gets the message — soon — and makes it happen.