The ATCO camp south of Valemount. /LAURA KEIL

By Laura Keil

The ATCO pipeline worker accommodation camp south of Valemount is remaining on site until at least September 30th for a very different reason than it was first intended.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness says the Ministry routinely does advanced planning for potential evacuations and works with communities and other organizations to identify potential accommodation for evacuees.  

The Ministry told the Goat that the Province has a contract with ATCO to use the accommodation in Valemount, if required, for up to approximately 600 people. So far, the lodging has not been needed. The Ministry says this contract is in place until Sept. 30 and will be reviewed throughout the month of September and extended if required.

The Province also set up temporary evacuee accommodations for 300 people in partnership with Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, located on their land in Kamloops.

“We continue to work with other ministries and NGO (non-governmental organization) partners to ensure communities have access to other supports that are required at reception centres, including mental health supports, harm reduction supports, pet care and access to culturally safe services,” the Ministry said.

As of Aug. 31st, the BC Wildfire Service reported there were 139 evacuation orders and alerts in place across the province in what has been the worst wildfire year on record in terms of area burned. Some 27,912 properties were under alert and 5,022 under order. 

Since April 1st, wildfires have burned about 1.91 million hectares of land in B.C.

“Unseasonably hot and dry conditions persist in the northern regions of the province, which has contributed to an increase in fire behaviour for parts of the Northwest and Prince George Fire Centres,” the Wildfire Service said.

As of Aug 31st, there were still 422 active wildfires burning across the province.

More than 3,500 personnel directly engaged in wildfire response efforts in B.C. This figure consists of BC Wildfire staff, contract personnel, and out-of-province personnel from Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Ontario and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Southern regions of the province have received varied amounts of precipitation over the last week, most notably in the southeast. Temperatures in the south will rebound temporarily, but will return to seasonal, entering a fall pattern for the foreseeable forecast.

Meanwhile, above seasonal hot and dry conditions persist in the northern regions of the province.