Consultant Colin O’Leary takes questions during a wildfire business recovery meeting held Dec. 4 at Dutch Lake Community Centre. It is important that business owners who could not attend should fill in an online survey, he says.

Wildfires affect your business? TNRD wants to hear from you

Business owners asked to complete online survey so governments can develop recovery plan

“My best estimate is that our revenue was down by $150,000 … and our bookings for next year are down by 40 per cent.”

According to Colin O’Leary, that’s the kind of information the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and other agencies need as they develop a wildfire recovery plan for the TNRD and the province.

O’Leary is a consultant hired by the TNRD to coordinate business recovery from the wildfires within the regional district.

The statement about revenue losses from a business owner whose business is based on Wells Gray Park was made during a wildfire business recovery consultation meeting held Monday, Dec. 4 in the Dutch Lake Community Centre.

READ MORE: TNRD wildfire recovery website

READ MORE: BC Parks announces partial closure of Wells Gray Park (Aug. 5, 2017)

READ MORE: The McLure Fire of 2003 (2013)

Just over a dozen people showed up for the meeting, and nearly half of them were representing government agencies of one kind or another.

“I can understand why people didn’t come out. It was brutal. They’re tired and they’ve been through a lot,” O’Leary said.

“The big problem is we’ve had poor turnouts at almost all of our sessions. If we don’t get the feedback, we won’t be able to put together a plan. And if we don’t have a plan, the province could very easily say these businesses don’t need support,” he said.

The wildfire business recovery coordinator said that those business owners who were unable to attend the meeting can still participate by taking an online survey.

“If businesses want support, they need to complete that survey, ideally by the end of this week (Dec. 15)” he said.

The survey should only take five to 15 minutes to complete.

O’Leary noted that not just the TNRD will be looking at the results of the survey to decide the best course of action to help businesses recovery.

His comment that the provincial government might decide that businesses don’t need support because they haven’t filled in the survey was to some extent an echo of questions asked during the Dec. 4 meeting by Myles Bruns, the regional manager for the community wildfire recovery branch with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in Kamloops.

“What is it you want?” he asked. “Grants from the government? Loans from the banks?”

Bruns noted that up to $18,500 is available to impacted businesses through the Red Cross. He asked if it was enough.

Rafting business owner Scott Streadwick said the criteria for the money from the Red Cross are not clear, meaning they can apply but have no idea how much they will receive.

“If we have another wildfire season next year the same as this last summer, this room will be a lot emptier next year,” Streadwick predicted.

Robert Beaudry, owner of another rafting company, said, “This season made 2003 look pretty good (referring to what wildfire season that included the McLure Fire that left most of the North Thompson Valley without highway access and power for some time).

Beaudry noted that in 2003 there was relief for businesses almost immediately after the fires while this year it appears they will have to wait until April – and even then it is not clear what they will get.

Deadlines to purchase new equipment and to advertise for next season have already passed, he said.

Ian Eakins, who operates hut-to-hut chalets in Wells Gray Park, said his business was devastated when the park was closed due to the wildfire threat.

If they hadn’t been able to build up a reserve over the years he doesn’t know what might have happened, he said.

Follow-up sessions for the wildfire business recovery initiative will be held at Dutch Lake Community Centre on Monday, Dec. 18, 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.

The same agencies as the earlier meeting are expected to attend, such as Emergency Management BC and Community Futures, plus the Red Cross, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ministry of Health, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and United Way.

“I hope to get each of them to give 10 minute presentations,” said O’Leary, “but the big thing is they will actually be in the room. If business owners want to talk with them, they can do so, face-to-face.”

Just Posted

Red Cross looking for public support

Organization seeks aid to help victims of this year’s wildfires

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Third overall in Canada for McLure, B.C. cowboy

McLure junior bull rider, Jake Bradley, finished third overall at the recent… Continue reading

Have you heard of Chaga?

By K.A. Pendergast Chaga is a Big ol’ Mushroom that grows on… Continue reading

Back in Time

45 YEARS AGO: Two men escaped from Clearwater Forestry Camp after overpowering… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urgest rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at Victoria’s CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

Most Read