By Kevin Flynn, Columbia Shuswap Regional District
If there is anything the past couple of years has taught us, it is that we have to be ready for anything.
This summer’s wildfire season had a major effect on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).
I had the opportunity to visit the Emergency Operations Centre, which is centered in the CSRD’s Boardroom, multiple times during this very challenging summer. As a politician, I always say that in cases like this, the best thing I can do is stay out of the way of the experts − and bring doughnuts!
On a serious note though, it was very sobering as the chair of the CSRD board to be the one signing so many evacuation orders. It is always in my mind that behind every emergency order are people whose lives are being dramatically affected and who need our support.
In the end, we had nearly 5,000 people evacuated at different times over the summer season, affecting 3,440 properties. It was a massive undertaking.
Kudos needs to be given to the Shuswap Emergency Program, the firefighters and the dedicated volunteers with the Emergency Support Services. These are remarkable people who do amazing work under very stressful conditions.
Since the summer, the Shuswap Emergency Program has again been busy with the Emergency Support Services operating a reception centre to assist with more than 500 families evacuated from Merritt.
But emergency work is only one component of the CSRD’s efforts. This year continued the trend of record-breaking work in the development services department, where staff have worked diligently to keep pace with the number of development and building permits.
Work continued on major initiatives in the CSRD such as the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail, the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study and the Golden Aquatics Centre proposal. The Electoral Area E Official Community Plan and Zoning bylaws are in the final stages of approval.
While it may not be headline grabbing, the day-to-day work of maintaining infrastructure continues. Water systems provided safe, reliable supplies to the residents they serve. Parks were maintained for the enjoyment of residents and visitors, and improvements were made to trails, parking lots and sports courts. New firefighters were trained and ready to respond. Improvements were made to various landfills and some recycling programs were enhanced.
And all of this was done with the continued challenge of coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As we wrap up 2021, I am very proud of these efforts. I wish all of you a safe and prosperous year to come.
Kevin Flynn is the chair of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board of directors.
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