Lytton, B.C. residents already rebuilding amidst recovery plan announcement

·3 min read
The village of Lytton, B.C. shot from a hillside on October 29, 2021 (Brady Strachan/CBC - image credit)
The village of Lytton, B.C. shot from a hillside on October 29, 2021 (Brady Strachan/CBC - image credit)

The Village of Lytton released a draft of its short-term recovery plan this week, four months after the disastrous wildfire that burned down the village.

The plan includes guidelines on a safe return to the village, a proposal for temporary emergency housing, and options for providing financial support to residents. It calls for temporary housing to be in place by next spring.

Meanwhile, some people in the area have already started rebuilding.

Don Glasgow and his wife Tricia Thorpe lost everything in the June 30 fire. They have began constructing a new home on their property just outside of Lytton. With the foundation and outer walls in place, they are ready to begin work on the roof.

The couple said that not all residents want to take on the enormous task of rebuilding.

"A lot of older people won't be back, that's the bad part. We already have three friends who have bought outside of Lytton," said Glasgow.

Nevertheless, Thorpe said that her and her husband have received support from friends and strangers to rebuild their home.

Brady Strachan/CBC
Brady Strachan/CBC

"This is the house that is being built on love, friendship and community," said Thorpe. "Family and friends and total strangers chipped in to help us, and donated materials and monetary funds."

The couple are using concrete for their new home, in hopes that it will withstand any future wildfires.

An unprecedented situation

Lytton's interim Chief Administrative Officer Ron Mattiussi, who helped Kelowna recover from a devastating 2003 wildfire, said the situation in Lytton in more difficult.

"The unique thing about Lytton is the complete and utter devastation," he said.

Mattiussi said here are no city records left after the fire to help guide the process, so the recovery plan was informed by in-depth interviews with Lytton residents.

"It's a devastating situation that we don't think that we've seen in B.C. before."

Tricia Thorpe
Tricia Thorpe

Mayor Jan Polderman acknowledged that there is concern the rebuild is going slowly.

"I think many people are frustrated with the rate of progress."

Polderman said work is ongoing despite the the impression that the village looks more or less the same since the fire destroyed everything. Demolitions have begun to remove fire debris and environmental hazards.

The province announced funding to transport and dispose of debris from more than 150 homes and businesses that were destroyed in the fire.

On Wednesday Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth appointed two liaisons to help with the rebuilding of the village. Farnworth said that the province is also working to contact residents of Lytton and assess needs.

"We know that many members are insured... for those that aren't we have put in place the emergency support system to ensure that they have accommodation," said Farnworth.

'Get on with it'

From their property Don Glasgow and Tricia Thorpe say they are determined to rebuild and move beyond the devastation of the fire.

"What else are we going to do? What are we going to do if we are not going to rebuild and get on with it?"

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