To all Thompson Okanagan industry stakeholders and DMOs;
Once again, we have a situation whereby the Province of British Columbia has had to take the step of declaring a Provincial State of Emergency as 566 wildfires currently burn across the province.
The Provincial State of Emergency means that the province now has access to federal resources and support and streamlines the coordinated response to protect the public. The federal government has accepted British Columbia’s request for assistance. In the coming days, federal personnel and resources will be arriving in B.C. to assist the over 3300 firefighters and contractors working around the province with wildfire efforts. The state of emergency also gives agencies, such as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Emergency Management BC, the fire commissioner and the RCMP, the authority to take every action necessary to fight the wildfires and protect people and communities.
“Given the unpredictable behaviour of wildfires and the number of significant wildfires in all areas of the province, we’re bringing in the additional resources we need to keep people and communities as safe as possible.” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
As this summer marches on towards its end, the province has been unsurprisingly met by hot, dry conditions, and antagonizing winds. BC is bracing for an uphill climb to the finish, both in containing the Wildfires and managing the Air Quality issues. Since early July we have enacted our own Emergency Plans and part of this our team at TOTA is in direct daily contact with the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centres in our Region as well as the Regional Districts, BC Wildfire, Destination BC, Community DMOs, and the Province, all of whom are monitoring the situation closely.
As of today (August 15th) all highways in and out of the region are fully open. This is subject to change and we remind you to check with DriveBC.ca for updates as they become available. Evacuation orders and alerts remain in place for a number of locations in the Similkameen Valley and Thompson-Nicola Region and can be found on the RDOS or TNRD websites.
We understand these circumstances can bring negative media attention, we encourage you to remain accurate in your messaging, and to use clear, and up-to-date information from official sources only. We will also continue to work with all of you on reposting your real time photos through our extensive social media network utilizing “#realtime” and send out regular emails with updates as they become available.
Our messaging will continue to focus on being open for business and providing information on the many activities and areas to enjoy throughout the Thompson Okanagan.
In times like these, it is best to be as informed as possible, and we encourage everyone to put safety first. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, but for real-time information, these resources are readily available to you.
- The BC Wildfire Service has set up an interactive map of all active wildfires across the province. They also release the latest wildfire information on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Emergency Info BC has a provincial Twitter account with up-to-date information about current wildfires and other emergencies in BC.
- Drive BC provides information about road closures and delays, posting updates on Twitter and website.
- Environment Canada is the resource for latest weather information, statements, and air quality advisories.
- The provincial website has up-to-date information about fire bans and restrictions throughout the region.
- For a map of all affected properties in the Central Okanagan, visit CORD’s website.
- Evacuees can register with the Red Cross by going to www.redcross.ca/gethelp or by calling 1-800-863-6582
- To report a wildfire or irresponsible behaviour call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from a cell phone.
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association would like to extend our support to the communities and industry in this time of need. Please let us know how you are doing, what you need, and how we can help. Whether you are affected by the smoke or the fires and require communication on your behalf to help keep visitors safe, or whether you are unaffected and are happy to have guests sent your way, let us know so we can best help you, and your guests. We invite you to send any information you may have, photos, or updates directly to Ellen Walker-Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe everyone.
Glenn Mandziuk, President & CEO
Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association