Honourable John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
West Annex, Parliament Buildings
Dear Premier Horgan,
As you know, it has been a devastating couple of weeks for the people of Lytton as a wildfire virtually destroyed the town and everything in it. My constituents suffered great trauma as they evacuated homes and businesses on a moment’s notice, most with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Tragically, we lost two valued community members and our hearts go out to their families and loved ones.
With all this in mind, it is vital that we ensure these evacuees get the supports they need. To my knowledge, in B.C. we have never seen a wildfire destroy nearly an entire town before. This makes the situation unique, and we must respond accordingly.
Normally, wildfire evacuees would be displaced for a few weeks at most. For Lytton residents, most have nowhere to go for the foreseeable future. As we know, rebuilding the town is going to take a long time. Currently there is no hospital, ambulance or police station. Medical services, the main store and the post office have also been destroyed.
It is essential that we have a plan in place for the medium-term to bring safety and comfort to residents. Can you confirm whether or not any strategy has been, or will be, developed to ensure their needs are met?
Further — will the government’s plan provide appropriate supports to fire victims, including some or all of the following:
- Mental health services, to support healing and recovery from this traumatic incident;
- Medical services, to provide health care and prescriptions to those who need them;
- Access to necessities including food, medication, toiletries and other comforts;
- Access to gift cards, which have been provided in other jurisdictions like Alberta, to give residents dignity and the ability to make their own choices about what they need;
- Stable accommodation arrangements, to reduce the stress of frequent moves;
- Accommodation for pets and livestock, and the feed and supplies to keep them healthy; and
- Connectivity to keep loved ones in touch with one another.
As we begin to transition from the emergency response towards ensuring these residents can resume some semblance of a normal life, we must ensure the appropriate resources are available to them.
There is also the important issue of how Lytton’s business community will rebuild. While some small business owners had insurance, many others did not. Will the government be consulting with them to assess their individual circumstances and needs, and working with them to restore the important goods and services they provided to the community?
As the local representative for Fraser-Nicola, I am ready and willing to help make the connections needed to bring some stability to residents of Lytton who have lost so much, and who will be out of their homes and community for quite some time before everything can be rebuilt.
cc: Shirley Bond, Interim Leader of the Official Opposition
cc: Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General