By Laura Keil
I moved to the Valley in 2010, so it was interesting for me to research the prolonged 2003 power outage that affected 7,500 customers in the North Thompson and Robson Valleys, after hearing stories about it over the

Aside from a few well-connected businesses and generator-ready residents, most people and businesses were without power for 4-5 days, and everyone was asked to conserve power while on generator back-up, a situation that lasted 22 days.

Since 2003, there have been many back-ups and redundancies added both to Village infrastructure and to BC Hydro, which is great to see. After all, ordinary people have only become more reliant on power. It’s amazing to learn that Castle Creek IPP can island the entire Robson Valley (with a small amount of help from other IPPs for stability). This is a huge boon to power resilience in the

But some situations haven’t changed: many people still rely on electric pumps for their water systems, for example. A wildfire that damages a line inside the Robson Valley could still cut off power to a significant number
of people. But the 2003 experience shows how quickly people can problem-solve when they are motivated to find solutions.

It’s also worth thinking about what we would do without cell phones during an emergency situation. It’s a pretty scary thought, probably scarier than a lack of power, since it would truly hobble our ability to communicate. If the power was out, we would need to fall back on battery-powered radios. Luckily, we do have an emergency radio line available via the Valemount Entertainment Society so
local officials can communicate out, at least.

In one of my interviews, John Wheeler made the stark point that even though this wildfire season has been the most destructive on record, the McLure fire didn’t start until July 30th. There is still August to worry about.

Luckily rain has brought many raging wildfires under control. But we can’t stop being vigilant or thinking about our own emergency plans and how we might help others.