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

Your weekly Mountain Minute

Golden’s 60-second news recap

An Everest fundraiser

Man set to climb elevation of Mt. Everest in one day to raise school lunch funds

Interior Health study offers take-home drug testing kits to spot fentanyl

Interior Health to evaluate safety of at home drug testing kits aimed at reducing fentanyl overdoses

Golden Fire Rescue training grounds get a facelift

Residents may have noticed some changes at the fire hall in the… Continue reading

Area A Aquatic Feasibility Advisory Committee appointed

Submitted A committee has been formed to look into the idea of… Continue reading

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Most Read