Wednesday - May 22, 2024 - Harrison's mayor declares state-of-emergency

🌧 High 12C

Good morning!

This weekend, hockey fans like myself experienced another tough Vancouver Canucks defeat—though, as I told my kids, this is how every other season has ended so it’s not exactly surprising. For me, it wasn’t the hardest sports defeat of the weekend, though. I again travelled to Vernon to play in an oldtimers’ (technically “masters” but we all know what we’re talking about) soccer tournament. And after three tough games, we painfully succumbed in the playoffs. When I write “painfully,” I’m not talking about the psychological scarring that accompanies a Canucks loss. I’m talking about the pain that comes from being near 40 years old and playing more than 200 minutes of soccer over the course of 30 hours or so. My legs still feel like they were run over by a semi.

But, oh, it was fun (despite the fact that I got hailed on, soaked in a separate freezing-cold wind-driven rain storm, and a sunburn all in the same afternoon). I’ve written about my skepticism of the growing youth sports industry before in this space. As far as I’m concerned, there is next to no societal benefit from trying to create the next generation of elite athletes. Instead, we should pour all our efforts into making sports as accessible as possible for all young people, so they can be competent enough to join a team of strangers, make new friends, and limp onto a soccer field or hockey rink at the age of 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 and have an absolute blast.

– Tyler

Traffic & Weather

🌤 Local forecast: Langley | Chilliwack | Abbotsford | Hope

🚘 Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google, and find DriveBC’s latest updates.

🛣 Click here for links to road cameras across the Fraser Valley, including those for the Coquihalla, Highway 7, Hope-Princeton, Fraser Canyon, and Highway 1 in Langley and Abbotsford.


Why the BC government considered disbanding the Village of Lytton

Nearly three years after Lytton’s devastating fire, building has only begun on a handful of homes. Minister of Environment Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma says changes have been made to avoid some of the issues that have plagued the village’s rebuilding efforts. 📸 Tyler Olsen/BC Legislature

BC’s Minister of Emergency Management declined to apologize for her government’s handling of the rebuilding of Lytton, but Bowinn Ma did say the province has moved to address gaps revealed by the community’s post-fire struggles.

Ma also told The Current that upon assuming leadership of her new ministry in December of 2022, she considered dissolving the village of Lytton to allow the province to take over its role.


Need to Know

❄ Environment Canada is again warning about the possibility of snow on the Coquihalla [RadioNL]

🏗 The proposed expansion of MEI Secondary in Abbotsford has been given the green light [Abbotsford News]

🗳 Langley Liberal MP John Aldag has resigned and is hoping to run provincially for the NDP [CBC]

🎶 The Forest Echoes Music Festival will return to the Cultus Lake area next month [Exclaim]

😐 Another truck got stuck under a Langley overpass Monday [Global]

🎮 Kids in Chilliwack are coping with grief by playing video games with the support of the Chilliwack Hospice Society [Chilliwack Progress]

💰 A 36-unit rental townhouse complex in Chilliwack is up for sale for $7.5 million, with the seller touting the ability to redevelop [Redfin]

✈ A glider plane stolen from the Hope airport Monday was found hours later being towed behind an erratically driven pickup [Hope Standard]

👍 A Hope-area First Nation has repaired 22 homes with help from a local business [Hope Standard]

👋 The departure of Abbotsford MLA Mike de Jong will be a loss for BC’s legislature, veteran columnist Vaughn Palmer writes [Vancouver Sun]

🌲 Why tree-planting needs to adapt to create more sustainable forests [The Tyee]

🛶 Summer starts at the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival June 22-23. Click here for info on the continent's biggest race, music, food, and culture!*

🏢 Luxury awaits at 900 Carnarvon Street. Experience urban sophistication with premium amenities and a prime location.*

*Sponsored Listing

The Agenda

Both federal (left) and provincial (right) wildfire maps currently show a low fire danger rating for southwestern BC. 🗺 BC Government/Government of Canada

Harrison mayor declares emergency to buy

Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Ed Wood declared a State of Local Emergency Tuesday “due to the significant threat of an interface fire and imminent threat to the loss of life and property.” You can read Wood’s explanation for the declaration here. You can read the declaration itself here. The declaration will expire in 14 days, although it can be cancelled at any time by BC Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma.

In declaring the emergency, Wood cited a conference call that took place last Friday, during which Ma spoke about the evacuations of residents in the province’s northeast. Wood noted that there was an increased risk of interface fire due to drier conditions and low snowpack levels.

Wood writes in his declaration that his state of local emergency is being made “proactively” to enable him to sign two different fire prevention contracts. The first would see the village spend $174,500 to purchase an early detection system that would use 100 sensors and three cameras to continuously monitor the village for fires. Wood said he was also contracting a professional forester “to complete fuel mitigation for 50 metres along McCombs Drive/Eagle Street from McPherson Road to Naismith Avenue.”

Harrison Hot Springs’ council had discussed the Sensenet purchase at two separate meetings—with council finally agreeing to purchase 65 sensors and three cameras for $129,000 in late April. (That decision was made when Coun. Allen Jackson voted in favour of the proposal because he “just [wanted] to get on with this.”) The upgrade to a larger contract was set to be discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting, after fire chief Curtis Genest asked for it to be considered by politicians. The larger fire detection system would cover the entire village, rather than just the East Sector area.

A State of Local Emergency would allow Wood to take actions without the approval of three councillors who frequently oppose him and whom he has accused of participating in a ‘coup.’

But while BC’s Emergency and Disaster Management Act does give mayors the ability to declare a State of Local Emergency, that power requires certain conditions to be met. The act allows a local authority to declare an emergency if they are satisfied an emergency is present and, crucially, if they have “used reasonable efforts to obtain the consent, to the declaration, of the other governing members of the local authority.” In other words, council as a whole needs to have a say. And although it provides a broad definition of emergency, the act requires that a specific event to have either occurred, or to be “imminent.”

The declaration must also identify the “nature of the emergency.” Wood’s declaration says there is a “significant threat” of an interface fire in Harrison Hot Springs, and that such a threat poses an “imminent threat to loss of life” in the village. But in a press release, Wood writes that there are no active evacuation orders and that residents don’t need to take any action.

The risk of a serious fire in Harrison Hot Springs tends to increase in summer, but the current fire danger conditions are low or very low according to maps and data from both the BC Wildfire Service and the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. Fires in Alberta and northeastern BC are relatively common in May, but The Current has previously reported that dangerous spring fires are uncommon in the province’s mountainous south. So although a wildfire has the potential to endanger residents in Harrison Hot Springs, especially in the summer, there is no sign that such a disaster is “imminent.”

Fraser Health, Kent respond to FOI fee questions

Earlier this month, we wrote about how the Fraser Valley contained some of the only local governments and public bodies to follow the province’s lead and implement their own fees for making freedom of information requests. For that story, which you can read here, we asked each government. Neither the Fraser Health nor Harrison Hot Springs nor the District of Kent met our deadline (we gave them nearly a week) for responses, but after the story was published, Fraser Health said that they hadn’t received our email. So we allowed them to file a response. Kent also independently sent us their response. You can now read them at the bottom of the story.


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🗓 Things to do

Film night: The Abbotsford Film Society is screening "The Straight Story" on Friday at 8pm at The Banquet Room (at Emmanuel Mennonite Church). Tickets online.

Storyteller: Langley's Bez Arts Hub is hosting storytelling and "musical nomad" Stephen Fearing at 8pm on Friday. Details and tickets online.

Seabird Island Festival: Seabird Island Festival runs from Friday, May 24 to Sunday, May 26. The festival will include soccer, ball hockey, baseball, and war canoe competitions, as well as food and art vendors. Details online.

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