Salmon Arm council is diving in with other organizations to help evacuees who are staying in the city.
Council voted to spend up to $2,000 to purchase family pool passes for the recreation centre so the Shuswap Emergency Program’s Emergency Social Services (ESS) centre can provide them to evacuees.
Mayor Alan Harrison made the motion at council’s Nov. 22 meeting, which passed unanimously. He did so after expressing appreciation for the reception centre at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, run by ESS director Cathy Semchuk and volunteers.
Along with providing shelter and food and basic needs, the centre also provides emotional support, he said.
“People come in who are feeling defeated, who are feeling sad, confused, and when they leave they have a piece to hang onto. They have a place to go and, when you think about yourself, if you have to leave in a minute’s notice, you grab your dog, you grab your cat, whatever else you can and you leave. And that’s what shows up at the reception centre.”
He said the SPCA is also there with pet carriers and support.
“Many of our hotels have opened up rooms to animals because at that time, especially, those residents have to keep those animals with them… That includes hotels in Salmon Arm and Sicamous.”
Harrison said more than 600 evacuees have been processed at the reception centre, most from Merritt but a few from Princeton. When he asked Semchuk what the centre could use, she suggested pool passes.
Joel de Boer, general manager at Salmar Cinemas, wrote to thank council for the COVID grant. He said the Salmar board recently voted to forward 250 theatre tickets to the reception centre so they could be handed out to families. Harrison also had a call from the superintendent of schools, asking how the school district could help.
Harrison expressed his admiration for the mayors in communities such as Merritt, Princeton and Abbotsford.
“I have to say, the work they’re doing is beyond what was anticipated. I hold them in high regard, both their communication to their communities and the very difficult decisions they’re having to make.”
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