By Keith McNeill
The closure of Wells Gray Park and other impacts of the forest fire situation were the main topics on the agenda when Peter Milobar, the recently elected MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson, met with Clearwater and area tourism operators and other stakeholders on Saturday, July 22.
“The session was about how things unfolded and changes they would like to see,” said Milobar. “We’re going to work with BC Parks to see how we can minimize any damage going forward.”
Several tourism operators whose businesses depend on the park have complained about how quickly the park was shut down, especially considering that there were no fires in the park or its immediate vicinity.
The new MLA noted that this summer’s forest fires have impacted a large area in the B.C. Interior.
He said he’s been working with MLAs from other impacted communities to develop a post-fire strategy that will involve not just tourism, but also such industries as cattle ranching and forestry.
“We want to try to rebuild and not have a long, lingering post-fire recovery,” Milobar said.
Those attending the meeting included Clearwater Mayor John Harwood, Clearwater CAO Leslie Groulx, TNRD director Carol Schaffer, services coordinator for Electoral Areas A and B Sherri Madden, Clearwater councillor and park contractor Merlin Blackwell, Tourism Wells Gray marketing manager Stephanie Molina, Sandie Robinson of The Lake House B&B, councillor Dennis Greffard of Greffard’s and Greenscapes, Tay Briggs and Ian Eakins of Wells Gray Chalets and Wilderness Tours, Liana Beaudry of Riverside Adventures, Jane Holbrook of Interior Whitewater Rafting, Courtney Sedgwick of Across the Creek and Kingfisher Cabins, and Gord Jones from Clearwater Lake Tours.