Kelowna residents had their chance to give input on what they felt worked and didn’t work during last year’s fire and flood season.
A BC Flood and Wildfire Review open house was held Wednesday, March 28 at the Coast Capri Hotel, to allow residents to voice their opinions on how the province handled its worst wildfire season.
After public input, the independent review will be released in late April.
An online survey is also available. In the survey, respondents are asked if they want to comment on the floods and the wildfires or just the fires, and told the review is examining four phases of emergency management including planning and preparedness, prevention and mitigation, response and recovery.
Two Kelowna residents weren’t impressed with the lack of communication they received to prepare for this year’s fire and flood season.
Jutta Peters and Dale Pollard both had Mill Creek waters flooding into their homes last May. Peters is concerned about the creek flooding again this year and that there is no action plan on how to deal with it.
She said water was seeping into her basement last year leaving an inch or two in her home on Spencer Road. Pollard’s car was flooded after water washed into the parkade of her apartment complex on Pacific Court during last year’s floods.
“At that time there was about a foot and a half. The parking lot has a well in it and the cars were sitting in the water,” she said.
Pollard said had they had any warning, as Peters home was flooding the day before, they could’ve prepared.
“We could’ve found out about sandbagging… we just simply didn’t have a clue.”
“I was thinking there would be more information available to what the plan was this year,” said Peters. “We’re into the season already and what’s going to happen?”
At the open house, review co-chair Chief Maureen Chapman said the biggest criticism she’s heard from people has been communication.
“The one that rises to the top consistently are communications, whether it be delayed communications, misinformation because social media is a factor now, or no communication. Some of the cell towers and ways of communications were burnt down,” she said.
Another issue for people is money reimbursement from the province. “People are still waiting on their dollars to be reimbursed for the work that they did themselves,” she said.
Chapman hopes the province will use this review to build a plan for the long term and implement some of the recommendations.
“Some of the recommendations we’ve heard from communities is having an app available,” she said. “We’ve heard people have a box or a tote ready at their front door just in case whether it being flooding or fire, people are thinking about it more.”
Doug MacLeod, with MacLeod Forest Services, attended the open house. He said he was impressed with the government response last season.
“Some things worked, some things didn’t, but way more worked than not,” he said.
He would like to see provincial funding continue each season, rather than die off after a few years of no major fires.
“I’ve been through this at least four times where there’s been a big year, like this last year, and things get rolling and there are money and programs and as the seasons go on the funding dies off. So I’m really hoping, out of all this, that we get some sort of long-term funding commitment that lasts past the four-year political cycle.”
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