Wildfire Expo event co-ordinator Deb Radolla and Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb invite the community to attend a Wildfire Information Expo and Free Family BBQ May 30 at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Celebrate successes and plan for the future at Williams Lake and Area Wildfire Expo

Family-friendly expo builds resiliency, boosts knowledge and brings community together

Williams Lake and area residents proved themselves resilient beyond measure when faced with last year’s wildfires.

And as the region once again faces the hot, dry weather and the prospect of new fires, it’s time to celebrate last year’s successes, while preparing for the season ahead and having an honest, open discussion about residual mental, emotional and physical impacts that are still present along with the opportunities to move forward.

The City of Williams Lake, Cariboo Regional District and Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development are hosting a Wildlife Information Expo and Free Family Barbecue Wednesday, May 30 at the Cariboo Memorial Recreational Complex.

Celebrating the outstanding efforts of Williams Lake and area citizens during last year’s wildlife season, the day will also look forward – building an even more resilient community and connecting residents with local resources, explains Trevor Kier, Wildfire Recovery Manager for the City of Williams Lake.

“Many reviews have taken place in the aftermath of last year’s devastating fire season,” Kier says. “This year’s planning processes are incorporating lessons learned, and all participating agencies and local governments are collaborating to ensure that we are even better equipped to meet the challenges of a subsequent event.”

What’s at the expo

Organizers have planned a full day of activities – stay for the whole time, or come and go through the day. Take in informational talks on a wide variety of topics from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with children’s activities and an Information Expo running from 3 to 7 p.m., and a free family barbecue from 5 to 7 p.m., before wrapping up with a community thank you and keynote address from 7 to 8 p.m.

You can also visit more than 40 informational tables covering topics including:

• Preparation for 2018: FireSmart information, registration for emergency alerts, emergency preparedness, and tools and tips for flood and fire seasons.

• Mental health and well-being: mental health information and resources, and the signs and symptoms of stress and post-traumatic stress. “The effects of last year’s wildfires are unique to each person. This is a way for people to connect with any help they feel they or their loved ones might need and to increase their preparation and recovery knowledge. Ideally this will bring about a greater sense of control and hopefully help to decrease stress levels,” Kier says.

Representatives from the provincial and local governments, the Williams Lake Indian Band and emergency response providers will be available to speak about their wildfire disaster management efforts last year and to provide updates on their preparations moving forward.

• Recovery information: support for landowners, business programs and non-profits.

Bring the kids!

“We want to make it a real family affair and make it as welcoming as possible,” says Deborah Radolla, City of Williams Lake Wildfire Event Co-ordinator. Entertainment is planned, along with interactive games with the recreation department, and visits from Smokey the Bear, Sparky the Dog from the Williams Lake Fire Department and the ever-popular Williams Lake Willy.

What you need to know:

A Facebook survey regarding meal options is helping event organizers plan for the barbecue – find it at facebook.com/CityWL. Residents are asked to park in the recreation centre’s main parking lot for the event. For more information, visit williamslake.ca or stay tuned to facebook.com/CityWL

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