The federal government has announced $77 million in new funding to help rebuild a B.C. community that was devastated by a wildfire.
The funding comes almost one year after flames tore through Lytton, destroying most of the village.
The money will be used primarily for construction of net-zero, fire resistant public buildings.
“These community spaces will be net-zero, increasing energy savings while reducing emissions. But most important, the new buildings will be constructed to be fire resistant,” said Harjit Sajjan, International Development Minister.
Other funds will go to a homeowner rebuild program to support insured homeowners who will rebuild to net zero and fire resistant standards.
A little over $7 million will go to a business restart program, assisting businesses to get back on their feet again.
Some residents say while they are grateful for the funding, they wonder why it took so long to arrive.
“It would have been great 10 months ago, but now a lot of business owners will no be able to rebuild,” said Meghan Fandrich, who owned the Klowa Art Café until it burned.
“The cost of building has gone up, policy limits have not,” she said.
“It’s been just a big struggle with…zero supports for small businesses so this is the first announcement of some kind of support.”
Denise O’Connor lost her home in the fire.
“It’s been such a difficult year because there’s been so much unknown,” she explained.
She said she’s grateful for the funding, however, “a year later hearing that, it’s just a shame that it wasn’t announced months ago so that planning could get started around how that’s going to be spent and exactly what that’s going to be used for.”
Meanwhile, the work to clean up the village continues.
“The timeline is by the end of September the properties will be cleaned up and safe to return to,” said Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman.
But he said getting the community back to the way it was will be a long process.
“Generally speaking, you’re looking at a four to eight year timeline to have the community rebuilt,” he said.
Also attending today’s funding announcement in Lytton was Brad Vis, the Conservative MP for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.
“I really do hope that this funding announcement today builds back our community in a way that allows it to withstand future climate-related disasters,” he said.
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