Emily Colombo, the acting manager of the community wildfire recovery branch of the Ministry of Forests, takes down suggestions from Hal Giles, Bill Montgomery and Lindae Hilton at the Cariboo Regional District’s wildfire consultation in Williams Lake on Nov. 1. (Tara Sprickerhoff photo)

Emily Colombo, the acting manager of the community wildfire recovery branch of the Ministry of Forests, takes down suggestions from Hal Giles, Bill Montgomery and Lindae Hilton at the Cariboo Regional District’s wildfire consultation in Williams Lake on Nov. 1. (Tara Sprickerhoff photo)

CRD consultations hear diverse views on wildfire response in Williams Lake

People encouraged to come to further sessions to be held around Cariboo Chilcotin

About sixty people clambered into the Gibraltar Room on Nov. 1, some carrying notebooks, others picking up information packets from several info tables set up around the room.

They were there for the Cariboo Regional District’s wildfire community consultation in Williams Lake, during which they would have their chance to share their experiences, make suggestions on what could be done better in a similar emergency situation and give feedback to not only the CRD, but all of the other organizations involved in this summer’s wildfire response.

“It’s something we’ve done after a number of events in order to review the event with the people that were impacted,” said CRD Chair Al Richmond.

The consultation was arranged in a group discussion setting, with everyone having the opportunity to give their opinion on a number of topics including evacuations, communication, wildfire fighting, and RCMP.

‘This sort of style which is small group discussions is different than open mic,” said Tim Conrad, a consultant with Butterfly Effect Consultations who ran the meeting.

“In an open mic setting less than 20 per cent of people ever get to speak in that situation so this allows everybody to have a say, whether they have a loud voice or a quiet voice and we want them to have that opportunity. Everyone in the room gets a chance to have their opinion be heard and the challenges they have going forward.”

Among the suggestions in the communications section, was that information should be shared in a means other than online, for folks who struggle with the internet, while another suggestion was to make the CRD’s evacuation maps more mobile friendly.

Suggestions ranged from having hand outs at evacuation stations on the different fires to installing more cell towers.

Others questioned why Williams Lake even had to evacuate.

Sonny Allen attended to speak about the road blocks that happened even before the city evacuated.

“The thing is, I owned a small business on Mackenzie Avenue and for the month of July we couldn’t get any freight, even though we went to the RCMP and the CRD and said look, the equipment that I’ve got in there needs a radiator because the guy wants to go and fight fire.”

He says the response was no.

“They were a little heavy handed as far as I am concerned. There was a lack of concern. It didn’t matter what you said, the answer was a standard no.”

Wayne Biffert attended to find out about fire-smarting his property, and what he could do to try and lessen the chances of his place burning down.

He also had an issue with road blocks.

“Don’t be so paranoid. The people that are going to vandalize are going to vandalize anyhow.”

He also spoke to the need to let local ranchers back onto their property to rescue their cattle.

Shary Stephen came for an entirely different reason.

“I didn’t have a lot of trouble with the way things unfolded and I just wanted to be able to give my support because I know there has been criticism, so I’m just here to support the positive.”

It’s that diversity of opinion that Conrad hopes to hear.

“It is so important to hear [from] the community and how things went for them, because for all of those people that are in the operations side, whatever role that they were in and the multiple agencies that were involved here, they are just going out every day and doing their job and doing the best that they can.

“This is an opportunity to learn if we indeed did those things right and got things right and evidently you will always find out that no, things didn’t go perfect because they don’t go perfect. There are things we can work on to be better in the future so that’s what we really want to do. By listening we can improve.”

Consultations will be coming up on Nov. 4 in Quesnel and at the West Fraser Fire Hall, on Nov. 5 at 150 Mile House and Nov. 6 at the Miocene Community Hall. For more information on the rest of the consultations and where they will be held check out the CRD’s Emergency Operations Centre Facebook page.

Later in November, there will also be a survey that residents can fill out, and Butterfly Effects Consulting will be holding a Facebook Live to reach residents in another way.

“We want you to be heard,” says Conrad.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jason and Pharis Romero’s latest album <em>Bet on Love</em> garnered three Canadian Folk Music Awards. Here Patrick Metzger, bass, from left, Jason, Pharis and Marc Jenkins perform at Arts on the Fly 2019 in Horsefly. Both Metzger and Jenkins performed on the album, as well as John Reischman on mandolin. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Romeros’ latest album garners three Canadian Folk Music Awards

Recorded in Horsefly, Bet on Love was released in May 2020

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

The Nazko River is under a flood warning. (Emcon Services Inc. Facebook photo)
Nazko River under flood warning

Rest of the Cariboo, including Quesnel and Williams Lake at lowest advisory level

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

The former C&C Wood Products mill will begin producing products again later this month, under new ownership. (Observer file photo)
Williams Lake-owned company to restart production at bankrupt specialty mill in Quesnel

President of Kandola Forest Products says he expects to fill 90 full-time jobs by end of year

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

Paramedic Matthew Schlatter of Victoria is living a fuller life today due to the double lung transplant he received in 2019. He encourages B.C. residents to register as an organ donor and let their families know their wishes. (Instagram/Matthew Schlatter)
B.C. man living a full, active life after double-lung transplant

Matt Schlatter encourages people to register as an organ donor to help others live

(Photo by Mojpe/Pixabay)
Canadian kids extracting record amounts from Tooth Fairy

Our neighbours in the U.S. receive slightly less from Tooth Fairy visits

Most Read