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PHOTOS: Public sees wildfire devastation at West Kelowna’s Camp OAC before rebuild begins

The rebuild will cost $2 to 3 million

In August, the Grouse Complex of wildfires that struck the Central Okanagan was devastating to so many people, organizations, and the community.

That’s the same for Camp OAC off of Westside Road in West Kelowna.

For the last 74 years, children have been going to the summer camp and have experienced endless memories that last for a lifetime. Over the years, people would come back to visit the camp as well.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, current and former campers visited the site for a different reason. The camp held an opening house for the public to see the devastation the camp ensued from the wildfires in August.

“Today’s an opportunity for people to come out and see the camp and be able to walk where they did over the 74 years the camp has been here and try to make their peace with the property before we start the next steps,” said Camp OAC director Ian Dixon.

The McDougall Creek wildfire destroyed 26 of the 31 structures on the property. On top of that, during the first week of October, thieves caused more damage by stealing copper wiring and plumbing fixtures from three of the five remaining buildings.

Camp OAC plans to rebuild and in total, it will cost $2 to 3 million. That work begins this week as Dixon was able to pick up their demolition permits on Friday, Oct. 6.

“This week we’re going to start on getting everything to a clean slate and then we start working on what’s next, what are the designs plans, where things are going to go as we work to rebuild,” said Dixon, who added it remains uncertain at this time if the five remaining structures will stay or be taken down.

Around 75 people showed up on Saturday to walk the campus and see the destruction.

“It’s incredible to see this many people show up, we didn’t expect this many people at all. There’s people here that were here 30 and 40 years ago,” said Dixon. “To see them all come really I think shows the community this camp had. I know there’s lots of sadness but I’m also having lots conversations of hope. People have ideas and donations to give and it’s really encouraging to have such a supporting community behind us.”

Camp OAC is putting out a survey for camp-goers to have their input on what the rebuilt camp should look like. The camp is planning to grow and have more structures to allow more people to attend as they were recently at 98 per cent capacity.

Anyone interested in donating can go on the Canada Helps website by searching Camp OAC.

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Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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