Sixty-one demolition permit applications have been received by the Regional District of Central Okanagan in the wake of the White Rock Lake wildfire, and 42 have already been completed as of early November 2022.(RDCO photo)

Sixty-one demolition permit applications have been received by the Regional District of Central Okanagan in the wake of the White Rock Lake wildfire, and 42 have already been completed as of early November 2022.(RDCO photo)

Recovery efforts progressing in wake of Okanagan’s White Rock Lake wildfire

Regional District of Central Okanagan provides an update more than a year later

Recovery efforts are continuing following last summer’s White Rock Lake wildfire.

The blaze burned thousands of hectares and damaged or destroyed 78 homes in the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) in the summer of 2021.

While the RDCO’s Recovery/Resiliency Office is now closed, the regional district continues to provide impacted residents with ongoing services and support in their various stages of rebuilding. This is being done through staff with the regional district engineering services and community services departments.

Any requests for information or assistance to the office are being forwarded to the appropriate department or partner agency for follow-up action.

As of early November, 61 demolition permit applications have been received and approved with 42 already completed. There have been 34 building permits received to date, with 27 approved. Staff continue to review those in process.

Four temporary recreational vehicle permit applications have been received and approved, and six development permit applications have also been received and approved.

Case workers have contacted over 50 residents that were directly impacted by the wildfire for their possible interest in the RDCO’s debris management and/or hazard tree reimbursement program. The Canadian Red Cross reviewed the insurance policies of 21 property owners who indicated they were interested in the program. Based on those recommendations and the scope of the program, the RDCO determined that 13 were eligible for assistance with managing debris or hazard trees.

The RDCO provided its first debris management reimbursement cheque in late May and by late October it had issued more than $100,000 to eligible property owners to help them deal with the cost of removing contaminated soil, concrete and hazard trees resulting from the wildfire.

The local concrete and large wood debris disposal site that was established in late April along the Sugar Loaf Mountain forest service road helped reduce hauling costs for residents. The site is now closed and not accepting any more debris loads. It is anticipated that some of the materials will be recycled and used locally. The concrete will be crushed to potentially be used as a base for a proposed expansion of the North Westside transfer station.

Property owners with sloped land that have been affected by wildfires are advised to learn the warning signs for potential floods and landslides. Such areas — including about 30 areas that have been identified in geotechnical assessments done after the White Rock Lake fire — may have a higher risk, especially during heavy rain events and snowmelt.

With support from the province and Canadian Red Cross, information signs have been put up in three locations along Westside Road: the North Westside main fire station 101 off Udell Road; fire station 102 above Fintry; and the North Westside transfer station.

Flood and landslide information has also been posted at mailbox boards throughout the North Westside communities.

Property owners are reminded that they are responsible for checking ditches and culverts to ensure an unimpeded flow of runoff water. If culverts become plugged, overland flooding may result.

The Canadian Red Cross has provided funding to install 21 pit water metres. These insulated structures are installed below ground in pits to protect the metre and water system from contamination, freezing and damage while also meeting all public health standards.

The regional district applied for this funding and is “extremely pleased” that the Canadian Red Cross is supporting this program to help impacted residents.

READ MORE: Book chronicling Vernon’s 2021 wildfire benefits fire victims, firefighters

READ MORE: Wildfire emergency siren on par for Vernon resort

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