Skip to content

Canada Day fire leads Kamloops council to approve funding

Nearly a half-million dollars is being spent in Juniper Ridge on access road improvements, post-traumatic support sessions and communication, but council stopped short of committing to a four-year agreement for the Voyent Alert application.
Juniper fire
On July 1, 2021, Kamloops Fire Rescue was working with the BC Wildfire Service and Kamloops RCMP to carry out a tactical evacuation of areas affected by the fire between Juniper and Valleyview.

Kamloops council has approved using reserve funds to help pay for changes the city is making in response to the Canada Day wildfire between Valleyview and Juniper Ridge.

Nearly a half-million dollars is being spent on access road improvements, post-traumatic support sessions and communication, but council stopped short of committing to a four-year agreement for the Voyent Alert application during its regular meeting Tuesday.

City staff received council’s support to transfer $400,000 from its working capital reserve funds to cover proposed upgrades to an access road in east Juniper through a gravel pit off Kicking Horse this year.

Staff were also given the green light to transfer $92,720 from reserve funds to pay for virtual post-incident trauma support sessions it offered residents following the July 1 fire ($2,720), as well as initial costs of its recent use of the Voyent Alert app ($40,000) and its recent construction of a temporary access road between Coldwater Drive in west Juniper and High Canada Place in Rose Hill ($50,000).

The civic operations department cleared and constructed a temporary 700-metre access road between Coldwater Drive and High Canada Place following the fire, removing vegetation, conducting surface grading and placing compacted asphalt millings, as well as concrete barriers, signage, and reflectors for safety.

With council’s decision, an annual $3,500 in maintenance work will be added to the 2022-2026 budgets.

But council opted to not approve $15,000 in its upcoming budget for the licensing costs of the Voyent Alert app, which was used when Barnhartvale, Dallas and Campbell Creek were recently placed on evacuation alert due to the White Rock Lake wildfire.

Coun. Dale Bass amended the motion to remove that licensing commitment from the vote after Mayor Ken Christian and Coun. Arjun Singh noted issues with the system and myriad options available.

“Given that we are going to be using this for things other than urban interface fires there may be a procurement process that would be able to look at all the software systems out there,” Christian said.

Added Singh: “Voyent’s a very well know app. It’s just a couple times where I got notifications when there’s been alerts and it hasn’t really loaded up.”

Kamloops chief administrative officer David Trawin will now report back to council at its next meeting regarding the city's current commitment to a contract and issues seen with the Voyent Alert software.

On July 1 a lightning-caused wildfire ignited below Juniper Ridge amidst a record-breaking heat wave and a day after much of the the Village of Lytton had burned down.

The Kamloops fire spread rapidly and threatened homes, resulting in an evacuation of parts of the Valleyview and Juniper Ridge neighbourhoods.

The city drew some criticism for how the evacuation was handled as cars were bottlenecked down Highland Road — the only paved way out of the community — while access roads were left locked, and were cut by fleeing residents.