COMMENT: Wildfire Safety, Building Accessibility and Celebrating Summer
Summer in the Okanagan. Who wouldn’t want to be here and enjoy all of what nature has to offer? Lakes, trails, every kind of fruit and vegetable and wine to top it off. However the heat of summer also brings wildfires. Many of you live in interface areas, beautiful homes backing onto forests and hills, surrounded by nature’s fuel for fires.
It’s vital we minimize the threat of wildfires, this is why I am encouraging homeowners and communities to participate in the FireSmart program. Among other things, the FireSmart program involves cleaning up potential fuel from properties and establishing a local warning system should a fire break out.
Our region is a leader in embracing the program. In April, the Anarchist Mountain Community Association was recognized as a FireSmart community by FireSmart Canada. Thanks to their work, fire risks are being mitigated in their community and for those who live in surrounding areas, in what is turning out to be a dangerous fire season. I encourage all to visit www.BCWildFire.ca or contact my office for more information.
July is a great month for events and celebrations and I am privileged to be able to attend many of them. July is Collector Car Appreciation Month and I, like most of you, enjoy seeing these wonderful restored vehicles at events in our communities. Did you know this love of old cars contributes more than $37 million to B.C.’s economy?
On Canada Day I attended events in three communities; lining up with hundreds in Oliver for pancakes, celebrating with the people of Keremeos, and attending the unveiling of the plaque on the Salmon Chief Statue in OK Falls. While I was unable to attend events in all communities, I want to recognize the great work Osoyoos does year-in-and-year-out with their famous fireworks and it was great to see and hear about every community draped in red and white, showing their Canadian pride.
Also a pleasure this month to attend the Sunshine Festival in Oliver and Founder’s Days in Greenwood. None of these successful events would be possible without volunteers, so a huge thank you to all of them!
My new portfolio on Accessibility will present a new set of challenges to work through. The White Paper on Disabilities has identified many areas where we as a province and as communities have work to do to make life better for those with physical and mental challenges.
Upon speaking recently with someone who uses a wheelchair, it was evident that there is a great deal of work that needs to be done in making sure accessibility issues are tackled. As we age, we face issues that hinder our ability to freely move around our communities and even our own homes.
Many people who were born with a mobility problem or who have developed one in life, have to struggle every day with what most of us take for granted. Increased accessibility must be made a priority.
I would like thank Mike Stiles, an advocate for people with mobility issues who has offered his expertise to me. He helped promote the recent “Fishing Forever” event. Hosted by the Osoyoos Wildlife Federation and the BC Wildlife Federation, the event allowed disabled anglers to enjoy a day of fishing. The Freshwater Fisheries Society and the BCWF will also host a fundraiser at Twin Lakes on August 8 to raise awareness of this program and others, enabling them to continue to fund this worthwhile endeavour. Their efforts, and those of many other organizations, will continue to contribute to making B.C. a welcoming and inclusive place for all.