B.C. auditor general to probe stalled Lytton wildfire rebuild

Click to play video: 'Auditor General to report on B.C. response to Lytton wildfire'
Auditor General to report on B.C. response to Lytton wildfire
British Columbia's auditor general says his office will probe the province's response to the Lytton wildfire and its roles and responsibilities for recovery, including funding and challenges with the rebuild. – May 1, 2024

British Columbia’s auditor general says his office is doing a review of the province’s response to the 2021 wildfire that devastated the community of Lytton, B.C.

Michael Pickup says in a video statement that the report will focus on the B.C. government’s roles and responsibilities for disaster recovery, its support for Lytton, including funding, challenges that came with rebuilding and how the province can improve.

On June 30, 2021, just one day after Lytton hit a Canadian temperature record of 49.6 C, a wildfire swept through the village, killing two people and levelling almost the entire community.

Click to play video: 'Archeological work complicates Lytton rebuild'
Archeological work complicates Lytton rebuild

Efforts to rebuild and return people to their homes have been slow, leading to protests from residents.

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Thousands of artifacts were discovered while digging up the area, which was the Nlaka’pamux First Nation village and burial grounds and is protected under B.C.’s Heritage Conservation Act.

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Lytton issued its first building permit for a single-family home in the downtown area last November, four months after backfilling work began on properties destroyed by the fire.

BC United MLA for Fraser-Nicola, Jackie Tegart, who has been calling for an audit since last year, said in a statement that it’s encouraging that an investigation is underway and “deeply disappointing” that the government has not prioritized the return of residents.

Click to play video: 'Lytton residents protest slow pace of rebuilding'
Lytton residents protest slow pace of rebuilding

“To date, not a single home has been rebuilt. The government’s lack of action speaks volumes about its commitment to those affected,” says Tegart, who represents the area in the legislature.

“This investigation must be a turning point. I hope it sheds light on the delays from this government and provides a clear path forward. I will continue to press for accountability to ensure that the community of Lytton can return home.”

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Bowinn Ma, the minister for emergency management, told the legislation last year that the government was doing all it could to support the recovery work at the village.

“The Village of Lytton was built on top of a former Indigenous village site and burial ground and the archeological findings so far demonstrate a rich history that’s been preserved in a way that is found in few other places in the province.”

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