By Blair Qualey
As we enter the final days of summer, I would typically use this column space to encourage British Columbians to take one final opportunity to hit the open road and enjoy every corner of this wonderful province we call home – but the last several weeks have proved to be anything but typical.
In recent days, the provincial government declared a province-wide state of emergency and instituted an emergency travel ban to fire zones to free up accommodation for thousands of evacuees and fire crews. And while many of the restrictions have been lifted, travellers are being urged to consult with local communities before traveling to them, to ensure they are accepting visitors.
I can’t stress enough how important it is that ALL British Columbians heed the advice of emergency officials and avoid travel into areas that are impacted or threatened. The latest information can be found at DriveBC.ca, Emergency Information BC and BC Wildfire Service.
Many of us have family and friends who are impacted by the devastating wildfires and our thoughts are with all affected. I don’t know anyone who can’t be moved by the images and comments that we are seeing on a daily basis from those who are experiencing these circumstances first-hand. For many of us, the power of Mother Nature and the changing circumstances brought on by climate change have been an awakening.
As we have done with past wildfire and flooding events, B.C.’s New Car Dealers are working with the Red Cross to provide support to those impacted by this year’s circumstances – including the many dealerships, their employees, family and friends who have been evacuated from their homes.
British Columbia is a vast province – fire zones withstanding – and those families who are looking for that final summer road trip should research the endless opportunities that exist, whether they involve a beach, camping area or community event.
But in doing so, be responsible by observing all campfire bans and restrictions in place. Each year, many blazes are the result of carelessness in one form or another, including drivers who toss cigarette butts from their vehicle windows. Everyone needs to be conscious of the fire hazard and apply common sense.
There is no doubt that the next few weeks will continue to be challenging, but we are hopeful Mother Nature will cooperate – and that the hundreds of dedicated firefighting professionals and other emergency personnel who are working around the clock to protect our communities stay safe.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org