Kootenay East MLA backs call for closure

MLAs Tom Shypitka and Doug Clovechok lobbying for backcountry closure due to wildfire risks

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka is echoing calls from his counterpart in the neighbouring riding to shut down off-road vehicle access to the backcountry due to wildfire risks.

Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok called for a backcountry closure in an interview with the Kimberley Bulletin earlier this week, saying that current conditions are tinder dry.

READ: MLA Clovechok calls for backcountry closure

Shypitka agreed with his Liberal Party colleague, noting that it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive when facing extreme wildfire conditions.

He says he’s been in regular contact with the Southeast Fire Centre for the last few weeks as conditions have worsened.

“I think it’s coming [off-road vehicle ban], I think you’ll probably see something in the next couple days and I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t,” Shypitka said.

He said the region has escaped relatively unscathed given the large fires that are burning up north in Kootenay National Park, the Sage Creek blaze in the South Country, and the Blazed Creek fire west of Creston.

“We’re surrounded by fires,” Shypitka said. “I don’t know why anyone would think we’re immune to a catastrophic event. We don’t want to freak people out or prematurely sound the alarm bells, but we see what our neighbours are going through, we’re having a heat wave right now — it’s into the 40s [degrees] today — the wind’s blowing and our sky is full of smoke.

“I don’t know if you need any more signs than that. I think that’s a pretty strong signal that we need to be conservative and shut it down.”

However, Shypitka also sympathized with concerns over shutting down backcountry access, pointing to differences in climate and conditions in the region. Shypitka said he was in both Elkford and Newgate on the same day recently and noted that conditions in Elkford were decent, while Newgate was bone-dry.

“So are we making our decisions on closures on the worst conditions in our area, or are we making decisions based on the average or what’s normal for the region? I don’t know.”

“…For a ban, or a closure, it’s a one-size-fits-all. It encompasses the whole region, but we’re so diverse that arguments can be made either way.”

The Kootenay East MLA says any closure decisions should be made based on the most conservative approach based from scientific data, which includes factors such as dew points, soil dryness, weather forecasts and historical weather data.

Just Posted

Castlegar family in need of ‘Christmas miracle’ to treat 4 year old’s diabetes

All Jack Sekel wants for Christmas is a monitor that neither insurance or government will provide.

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

Cold water thrown on Castlegar community complex upgrades

Too much work with too little time to do it might derail application for millions in grants

Castlegar council set to rule on three retail cannabis proposals

Residents have until Dec. 27 to comment on the business proposals

West Kootenay police take 18 impaired drivers off the road

Eight drivers were criminally impaired, says Sgt. Badry from West Kootenay Traffic Services

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read