KAMLOOPS — In light of the historic wildfire season that hit the B.C. Interior, the City of Kamloops and TNRD are planning a monument to commemorate the fire season, but more importantly to commemorate the volunteers that put in thousands of hours.
When wildfires broke out this summer, thousands of evacuees came to Kamloops, and the community stepped up in a big way to help.
"There was over 75,000 hours of volunteer time that was expended," said Kamloops mayor Ken Christian.
The monument will stand outside the Sandman Centre, which was the epicentre of the activity.
"Of course the Sandman Centre was the site of the EOC and the evacuation centre, so it seemed appropriate that there would be some monument there to mark what really was an incredible contribution by the citizens of Kamloops and the citizens of the region," Christian noted.
At Thursday's TNRD board meeting, directors approved $100,000 for the new monument.
"Even through the wildfire event, we started talking how we could recognize all the volunteers that put so much into supporting all of the evacuees," said TNRD information officer Debbie Sell. "The city of Kamloops really stepped up to help people that were evacuated, not just from our own region but also from even the Cariboo region."
Not all directors were in favour of the motion. Area "P" Director Mel Rothenburger says he and some others were opposed because they felt the money didn't need to come out of the public purse. Rothenburger says he felt that the money could be raised through donations as it was in 2003.
The new monument dedicated to wildfire volunteers will be the second such statue in the city. In front of the TNRD building and library stands a monument commemorating the 2003 wildfire season.
"We had almost 15 years that got away, and now we're back against it, and it might happen again because of the impact of climate change and global warming," said Christian. "I think we just need to make sure that we acknowledge when these unusual events do happen that we recognize and appreciate the contribution of volunteers."
The city and TNRD staff will sit down and decide on a designer soon, hoping to reveal concepts in January when hosting a wildfire volunteer appreciation dinner.
"Hopefully by the time we're able to pull together a dinner for people that did volunteer, or some kind of recognition event, then we'll be able to unveil a concept of the memorial, whatever it will be," said Sell.
The goal is put up the monument outside the Sandman Centre in April in time for Volunteer Appreciation Week.
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