The City of Williams Lake in partnership with the Cariboo Regional District and Ministry of Forests Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development are hosting a Wildfire (Community) Information Expo and Barbeque May 30th at the Cariboo Memorial Complex.

The free event has a number of themes/goals that will be of interest to many members of the city and surrounding areas. The event will be an opportunity to:

• Celebrate our ‘helping one another’ community spirit and resiliency – how everyone came together in responding to and recovering from the many effects of the 2017 wildfires and their aftermath
• A BIG Thank You to everyone in our communities who helped put in some way during the wildfires
• An information and resource forum focusing on wildfire recovery updates and preparation steps for the upcoming wildfire season
• A mental health and wellness information and resource forum to address post wildfire mental health and well-being awareness, sensitivity and pro-activeness in an open way
• Update the community on how the City, Cariboo Regional District and other agencies are preparing for the 2018 fire season – to share lessons learned and changes that have and are being made to our community emergency preparedness plans

In short, a primary goal of the Wildfire information Expo event is to get information out to community members that will help to reduce their stress and anxiety and to remind people how resilient they and our community are. The more relevant and timely information people have access to, the more they tend to feel in control of their lives. Reestablishing this sense of control is vital in aiding people’s mental health and wellness recovery from the lasting effects of the wildfires.

As people’s concerns and interests are variable and individually unique, the event will endeavor to be as inclusive and encompassing as possible. Community members will have an opportunity for face to face conversations and to receive information first hand from subject experts from a variety of agencies.

As winter in the Central Cariboo melts away, the possibility of flooding as well as the uncertainty of the 2018 wildfire season is becoming more of a focal point and concern for citizens. Everyone in the Central Cariboo Chilcotin region have been affected in some way by the 2017 wildfires and many of us may have unique concerns and reactions to the possibility of spring flooding and upcoming seasonal wildfires.

In addition, there are also concerns and uncertainty regarding the region’s economy in the wake of the wildfires and the devastating impacts on the land base particularly with respect to forestry, tourism and ranching sectors. As recovery efforts continue, agencies and organizations to date have focused on the immediate and greatest needs of residents, businesses and not for profit organizations. Many organizations and agencies are now in a place to begin sharing:
I. What the impacts have been and are forecasted to be
II. Their plans on how to most effectively deal with these impacts moving forward

Sharing this information at the Wildfire information Expo will address many concerns that people have which they may or may not be giving voice to. Additionally, the feedback received from the public at the event will assist agencies and organizations to identify areas of ongoing concern or new concerns where more information, communication and or coordination is required. Associated efforts to alleviate these concerns will also enable agencies and organizations to be better prepared for the 2018 freshet and wildfire seasons.


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