Provincial wildfire evacuees welcomed in Sun Peaks

“It’s all hands on deck right now to make sure that the hotel can accommodate everybody that’s coming in,” says Sun Peaks Resort LLP representative.
Sun Peaks Resort (SPR) LLP is working to shelter as many wildfire evacuees as possible. Photo by Liz McDonald

Update, Aug. 23, 3:30 p.m.: SPR LLP currently has 233 guests that were evacuated from wildfires.

Sun Peaks Resort (SPR) LLP is opening its doors to evacuees fleeing wildfires throughout Interior B.C.

The resort is working with Emergency Support Services (ESS), Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) and local First Nations in response to travel restrictions, evacuation alerts and orders in the Interior, according to Amy Blakeney, SPR’s chief operation officer. 

“The Sun Peaks Grand Hotel currently [has] 62 evacuees that are staying at the hotel,” she said.“Of course, that’s evolving hourly…It’s my understanding that the Cahilty Lodge also has evacuees in place right now.”

Yesterday, SPR LLP took in Rocky Mountaineer tour group members displaced from Kamloops. An additional 250 beds are available through SPR staff housing, should they be needed.

She noted staff have been working hard to ensure rooms are ready for the influx of displaced people.

“It’s all hands on deck right now to make sure that the hotel can accommodate everybody that’s coming in.”

Visitors have also been cancelling bookings for accommodations, as SPR is offering cash refunds or credits to rebook later, Blakeney added. 

The province issued travel restrictions for Kelowna and West Kelowna, Kamloops, Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton and Vernon in response to the ongoing provincial state of emergency spurred by wildfires. The restrictions ensure evacuees and emergency responders have access to accommodations, including hotels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, motels, inns and RV parks and keeps road infrastructure clear for people evacuating.

The resort was not specifically asked to accommodate displaced individuals and Sun Peaks hasn’t been included in specific travel restrictions, Blakeney said.

The province is requesting evacuees register with ESS to help with accommodation costs. ESS Volunteers at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre have advised those in need of assistance to first register online and then come to the centre in person to complete registration. In a press release, the city of Kamloops reminded evacuees to first check with their home or tenant insurance providers, who can give support.

Those who still need “assistance for shelter, food or incidentals must visit a reception centre to apply and complete an eligibility interview” in addition to registering online, according to the press release. 

Resort operations will continue as long as Sun Peaks is not under an evacuation alert or order, but SPR is prepared to pivot if necessary.

“Currently, we’re not under an evacuation alert, so we’re not under immediate threat,” Blakeney said. “That situation can change quickly, and we’re certainly encouraging everybody to stay informed.”

About 10 km to the east of Sun Peaks, the Bush Creek East wildfire is out of control.

The latest update from B.C. Wildfire Service’s website regarding the Bush Creek East wildfire was Sunday, Aug. 20, around 9 p.m., estimating the blaze to be over 41,000 hectares or 410 square km. There are eight communities in the Shuswap under evacuation orders and alerts.

For more coverage of the Bush Creek East wildfire, visit our coverage.

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