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Osoyoos mayor urges people across B.C. to plan before vacationing due to wildfires

Last Updated Jul 22, 2021 at 5:39 pm PDT

The Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire forced evacuations in Osoyoos. Kirsten van Hattem
Summary

'Please do your homework before you come,' says Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff amid raging wildfires in B.C.

With risk of evacuations at campsites, other areas still possible, Osoyoos mayor says finding accommodation can be tough

Many campers, vacationers appear to be rethinking their destinations, and opting for the Island or Sunshine Coast

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s wildfire situation continues to be a volatile one, with hot, dry weather creating major challenges for fire crews, and forcing many visitors to the Interior to rethink their plans.

A number of people have taken to social media to ask what is and what isn’t allowed when it comes to camping in B.C. at this time. In addition to seeking information, there appears to be much confusion about how to get from the Lower Mainland to popular camping destinations in the southern Interior, given the various road closures in place.

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff, whose community is one of the many that have been put at risk by nearby flames, is urging people to be prepared if they’re planning a trip out.

“It’s a great place to come and we love it, of course, but please do your homework before you come,” she said. “Make sure that wherever you’re going to stay — hotels, motels — just give them a call.”

The Nk’Mip Creek wildfire on July 20, 2021 (Courtesy Regional District of Kootenay Boundary)

 

She stresses visitors should plan ahead before they leave home, noting quickly changing situations.

“[On Wednesday] there was a fire on the road, just between Osoyoos and Cawston, so the road was closed for a while. Now the road did open up, they got the fire out, but those are the kinds of little things that you want to check on,” McKortoff added, saying this is the case for many areas, not just hers.

And with the risk of evacuations at campsites and other areas still a possibility, McKortoff says finding alternative accommodation may be tough.


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“Our motels and hotels are full this time of year. So it’s just that if you happen to be displaced, like some of the people were at the campground and at Spirit Ridge, we didn’t have a place for them to go. There were not other hotels and stuff,” she explained.

“Whether people have decided to postpone their holidays, whether they have decided to come and take their chances with the smoke … I don’t know. But I just know that this is our busy time of year, so I just want people to check before they come.”

FILE – Road leaving the Nk’Mip area by Osoyoos amid raging wildfires in B.C. (Courtesy Carol Haklander)

Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen has also urged visitors to plan ahead. He has asked people to consider whether they need a hotel room, as spaces are limited and could be in even more demand due to evacuations.

“If you’re going somewhere, you have to take that into consideration and be ready to maybe change your plans, depending on how the fire develops or how the winds change. And that’s the biggest factor right now,” he told NEWS 1130 Tuesday.

“Pay attention to the news, take into consideration what’s going on, and make a decision on your own what you think the best approach is,” Johansen added.

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan is echoing these calls, urging British Columbians to touch base with hotel operators and others before visiting.

With the situation not showing any signs of improvement just yet, it appears the wildfires are giving people the chance to reconsider where they plan to vacation, looking toward coastal areas instead, including the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.