Vernon mayor Victor Cumming has been “humbled and deeply moved” by the outpouring of support his community has offered those who have been affected by nearby wildfires that continue to rage.
Evacuation orders are lifting in the Central Okanagan, and Highway 1 is expected to reopen in the Shuswap, but many are still away from their homes, or have lost their homes entirely.
The wildfires have brought with them unprecedented challenges for many, but they have also revealed the “heart and spirit” of Vernon, Cumming said.
“I want to take a moment to acknowledge the residents of Vernon and its surrounding area for your incredible acts of compassion and solidarity,” Cumming said. “Your response to the plight of those displaced by the wildfires has been nothing short of remarkable, as many of you have volunteered time and resources to help meet the needs of those who have come here for safety. You have shown that in times of crisis, Vernon residents step up.
“While the Interior is not out of the woods yet, I want to reaffirm Vernon is open for business.”
The city continues to accommodate those seeking Emergency Support Services (ESS) at the reception centre at Kal Tire Place Arena.
Cumming said Vernon is now seeing hotel vacancies and an impact on business for food and beverage providers and attractions during what should be peak tourism season.
“Now that the provincial travel restriction has been lifted for the Okanagan, our community welcomes visitors with open arms and we look forward to receiving tourists again,” Cumming said, while encouraging residents to support local business.
“When you shop and support local, you’re not just making a purchase; you’re investing in your neighbours and the recovery and resilience of our region.”
With the wildfires impacting each community differently, Cumming implores people to respect the ongoing emergency response and recovery efforts taking place south and north of Vernon and follow their communities’ requests and guidance for being in those areas.
“As some neighbouring areas remain under evacuation order, Vernon’s ESS Reception Centre continues to be operational and we will continue to serve. We are now in a place where we can balance emergency response with a more regular summer tourism pace.
“So on behalf of all of city council, thank you again for your outstanding display of support and compassion. We are rising together.”