Sense of community builds with new century

There are many ways to mark a 10 year milestone and in Sun Peaks the period 2000 to 2009 is remembered for its great promise, rapid growth, devastating fires and sense of community that took root in the village.

There are many ways to mark a 10 year milestone and in Sun Peaks the period 2000 to 2009 is remembered for its great promise, rapid growth, devastating fires and sense of community that took root in the village.

Many remember the Delta fire of 2001 as a pivotal moment in the resort’s history. The community came together to help fight the blaze and begin the reconstruction process that helped relaunch the landmark hotel. Arguably lesser known, but no less devastating, was the McGillivray fire of 2003.
Started by lightening, the McGillivray fire was one of several that ravaged the Thompson Okanagan that year. For Dan Yano, a professional forest firefighter at the time, and his bride Suzanne Evans, the McGillivray fire lives in their memories as the one that caused the evacuation of their
wedding celebration.

“The day of our wedding, my groomsmen and I went golfing and we were getting showered with ash,” Yano recalls. “We had an inkling that (the fire) was getting closer to us.”

As the two were saying their “I do’s” the fire had advanced to within five kilometres of the resort and the 180 guests celebrating with them. The reception was well underway when they got the order to evacuate.

“I think it was amazing,” says Evans. “Everybody rallied around and I remember people’s faces looking devastated that it happened, but, at the same time, we were saying ‘we’ll always remember it!’”

It does take time but, after a wildfire comes new growth. As the decade marched on, and the fires became memories, Sun Peaks continued its rapid growth as more and more people chose to make the resort their year-round residence. Local business owners Dan and Terra Stebner felt that starting a business and raising a family in Sun Peaks was akin to pioneering.

“I’ve said this before, but where else in Canada, today, can you go and be a part of a community that was starting from scratch,” wonders Dan Stebner. “It was very appealing to us to grow our company and our family in Sun Peaks.”
And grow their family they did. November 12, 2006 started out blustery and just got worse as an early winter storm dumped 30 centimetres of snow on Sun Peaks in less than a day. Although they had hoped to home birth their expected child, by the time Terra went into labour, the weather provided them no choice of travelling down the mountain to deliver in the hospital. Instead, the Stebner’s second child, Theta, was born at home with the help of the Sun Peaks Fire Rescue Captain Riccardo Passeri, and Kamloops residents Dr. Walter Rees, and his wife Kathy, a retired emergency room nurse, who happened to be cross-country skiing at the resort that weekend.

“It was a pretty crazy two hours,” remembers Stebner, a volunteer member of the Sun Peaks Fire Department who had a fire truck complete with sirens and lights sent to retrieve the doctor from his home at Trapper’s Landing.

“The fire truck ran up and got him and in our bedroom on Burfield Drive there’s me, Terra and six members from the Fire Department waiting for him,” he recalls. The Stebners welcomed their daughter to the world within a half hour of the doctor’s arrival.

The Stebners had always felt like Sun Peaks was “their” community, but it took the arrival of their daughter to open new doors.

“For us, it was really neat, because we had a bunch of people that we didn’t know well, but when the baby was born at Sun Peaks, we made a lot of great friends,” grins Stebner.

In order for community to flourish it takes time, commitment and a group of people dedicated to supporting each other. The events of the last decade have proven that to be true in Sun Peaks.

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