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Drought disrupts summer events in British Columbia

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Feb10,2024

Drought disrupts summer events in British Columbia

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To maintain or cancel, that is the question on the minds of organizers of summer events in British Columbia. (Archive photo)

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Winter is coming end, but event organizers are already postponing or canceling their festivities this summer. They are concerned as limited precipitation and almost 40% lower than normal snowpack pose a risk of drought and wildfires in British Columbia.

This week, the Fort St. John International Air Show made the difficult decision to cancel the air show in early August.

On Facebook (New window) (in English), the organizers cite the risk of forest fires in the Peace region, particularly because of the low rainfall this winter. Not to mention the difficulty of recruiting volunteers. In 2023, Fort St John lived to the rhythm of evacuation alerts due to the Donnie Creek fire.

The largest fire in the province's history is still burning about 158 ​​kilometers north of Fort St John, but it is under control, according to BC Wildfire.

For one of the air show's directors, Sandi Miller, the decision was not taken lightly as the final show took place in 2022, after a five-year hiatus. This is a very difficult decision for our group to make. We spent two years working on the aerial demonstration.

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BC River Forecast Center warns snow levels were 39% below normal as of February 1 .

For his part, the general director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Aaron Hill, anticipates the worst. If the state of the snowpack does not improve in the coming months, the province could face the same devastating consequences of the 2023 forest fires, according to him.

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We really need aggressive and proactive drought planning from the province. All regions where water stress is likely to occur should have water sustainability plans in place.

Other organizers many events had to think about maintaining or canceling their festivities this summer.

The Kamloopa Powwow Society, one of Western Canada's largest gatherings celebrating Secwepemc heritage, has moved its annual event forward from August to June. It will now take place from June 28 to 30, to try to avoid the fallout from a possible heat wave and smoke from forest fires.

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The current drought in British Columbia is causing trouble for summer event organizers in the province. (File photo)

This is the first time the event will be held in June, according to Kamloopa Powwow Society treasurer and sponsorship coordinator Melissa Mathias. She makes it clear that it is better to err on the side of caution rather than risk the well-being of others.

Extreme heat waves occurred in August and, as the dancers wear ceremonial attire, we anticipate safety concerns related to heatstroke.

A quote from Melissa Mathias, Treasurer and Sponsorship Coordinator of the Kamloopa Powwow Society

The Salmon Arm Folk Music Society made a similar decision, moving its Roots and Blues music festival from August to July. The forest fires of 2023 forced festival organizers that year to cancel (New window) the festivities after the first day.

The town of Salmon Arm was not under an evacuation order, but the air quality had deteriorated significantly. Traffic restrictions have been put in place in the province. It was simply not possible to continue the event safely, explains the event's business operations coordinator, Althea Mongerson, who also deplores the heavy financial impact of ticket refunds.< /p>

The festival appears to be learning lessons, as the organizing team is taking extra precautions this year. For example, it increases the spaces in the shade, and the number of water stations and rest areas on the festival site.

With information from the show Daybreak North

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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