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

Louise Baxter found after 72 hour search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

Nelson architecture firm to redesign Arrow Lakes Hospital

Cover Architecture Collaborative will work on the hospital’s emergency department

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Volunteers sought for weed pull at Summit Lake Provincial Park

Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society is looking for help next week

UPDATE: Search for missing Cranbrook woman enters third day

The search for a Cranbrook woman missing in the Jumbo Pass area is entering its third day.

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

70 years after Babe Ruth’s death, fans still flock to grave

After Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53, tens of thousands of fans came to pay respects

Airbnb’s federal budget proposal tells Liberals, ‘we want to be regulated’

Submission says ‘we want to be regulated’ and asks the government to avoid forcing existing rules

Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a ‘leader’s courtesy’

UPDATED: B.C. RCMP dismantle Kinder Morgan protest camp

RCMP say they will enforce a court injunction today and remove Trans Mountain pipeline protesters who have been camped outside a Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

Nelson council gives next council a raise

Size of increase disregards advice of appointed committee

Italy says death toll will mount in Genoa bridge collapse

Authorities worried about the stability of remaining large sections of a partially collapsed bridge evacuated about 630 people from nearby apartments.

Former CIA Director: Trump worked with Russians and now he’s desperate

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, John Brennan cites press reports and Trump’s own goading of Russia during the campaign to find Democrat Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Church sex scandal: Abuse victims want a full reckoning

Since the crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, dioceses around the country have dealt with similar revelations of widespread sexual abuse.

Most Read