Travel restriction to West Kelowna will be lifted at midnight

BOWINN Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, announced on Thursday evening that the government is lifting the travel restriction to West Kelowna tonight, effective at midnight.

Ma said in a statement: “Over the past week, B.C. has experienced severe wildfires with devastating impacts for people and communities. My heart is with everyone who has been affected by the fires, including those who are at risk of losing their home and those who have already received confirmation that their home has been lost.

“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who changed their travel plans to the Interior following the accommodation and travel restrictions issued on August 19. We also want to thank the tourism industry for being nimble, supportive and understanding, and stepping up to make space available for evacuees, as well as for the many firefighters and emergency crews who are protecting us.

“Because of the support of people and accommodation providers, we were able to support local governments and First Nations in securing enough hotel rooms to meet the high demand of evacuees who needed a place to stay. We’ve also been able to book additional hotel rooms in case they are needed.

“Given the evolving situation and the accommodation we’ve secured, we are now lifting the travel restriction to West Kelowna. The order will be lifted tonight, Thursday, August 24, 2023, effective at midnight.

“West Kelowna looks forward to welcoming tourists into safe areas in the community once again.

“If you are planning on travelling in B.C., please do so safely and avoid fire-affected communities. Know before you go and be prepared. Many communities continue to be impacted by wildfires and face challenges. Listen to the direction of local communities and respect emergency orders and alerts.

“From speaking with local leadership, I know that many areas of the Shuswap – including Salmon Arm, Sicamous and most of Shuswap Lake (except for fire-impacted areas) – are looking forward to having tourists back in their communities. Similarly, many communities in the Okanagan are eager to welcome people, while others – like Lake Country – are advising that now is still not a good time to visit.

“If you’re travelling, please monitor information from the BC Wildfire Service, EmergencyInfoBC and DriveBC.

“We want to thank everyone for supporting the efforts of wildfire and structural firefighters in communities. As we begin to move into recovery, we will continue to work closely with the federal government and communities to determine how we can best support people and communities to recover and rebuild.”