A question from Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone in the B.C. Legislature today (Oct. 7, 2021):
T. Stone: When the White Rock Lake fire jumped Highway 97 and ripped through Monte Lake in Paxton Valley back in early August, these communities were absolutely devastated. Thirty-two families lost their homes. They lost everything. In the midst of this year’s fire season, the Premier said: “We’re prepared to do whatever we can.” But frustration is boiling over with these residents as they continue to wait and wait and wait for the supports that they were promised.
Adding insult to injury, the Premier refused to visit Monte Lake and Paxton Valley. All that these residents got from their Premier was a quick flyover. He was in nearby Vernon, but he couldn’t make the time to stop in Monte Lake and Paxton Valley. All the while, the Premier did have the time to take a vacation in the middle of the hardest part of the wildfire season in the southern Interior.
The Solicitor General hasn’t had the guts to go to these communities either. Instead, he’s lectured them, he’s insulted them, and he’s blamed them. These honest, hard-working, decent people need help from their government, not blame.
Monte Lake resident Jacqueline Gee said: “Our community was devastated by this fire. Homes have been lost. Livestock too. It’s been surreal. We feel like we’ve been left completely alone and, frankly, just shunned as a community. I’m frankly shocked and disappointed that there is zero help for those who have lost everything.”
Rob Bouchard and his young family lost everything in Paxton Valley. He too feels abandoned and angry that his community has been blamed rather than supported. He said: “It’s … insulting to be portrayed as the bad guys here. We’re all waiting for the Premier or the Solicitor General to come and talk to us in person.”
My question is this. What does the Premier have to say to Jacqueline Gee and Rob Bouchard and the many other impacted residents of Monte Lake and Paxton Valley who need this Premier to get on with providing the supports that he has promised them so that they can get on with rebuilding their homes and rebuilding their lives?
Hon. M. Farnworth: I appreciate the question. In terms of the supports that are available, we are working very closely with the Thompson regional district to ensure that support services are in place, working to determine the number of properties that are insured and those that are uninsured. Recovery managers are in place to ensure that those supports are in fact in place. The community has not been abandoned.
In terms of disaster financial assistance, that’s already there. We work with the federal government to identify what infrastructure qualifies. That work is underway so that we are able to go back and to rebuild communities that have been devastated by the significant fires that occurred this summer. We have been working and we will continue to work to ensure that that takes place.
Source: BC Hansard.