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Funding to help make Telegraph Creek livable again

The southern edge of the Alkali fire south of Telegraph Creek. B.C. Wildfire Service photo
The southern edge of the Alkali fire south of Telegraph Creek. B.C. Wildfire Service photo

VICTORIA – The B.C. government is providing $1.75 million to the Tahltan First Nation to help the communities of Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake recover from the loss of homes following last summer’s wildfires.

“In many ways, the residents of Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake are still struggling to get back to where we were before the wildfires hit last summer,” said Tahltan Chief Rick McClean, in a news release. “We’ve been primarily focused on getting people home – although that has been in temporary housing. Now with this funding from government, we can help find long-term solutions for residents of our community in permanent homes.”

“When I visited Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake last summer, the co-ordination by the Tahltan and collaboration with our government to assist all residents was very impressive,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “But when it comes to housing and recovery, they can’t do it all on their own and that’s why we are stepping up with this money to help make these communities whole again.”

A housing project in Dease Lake will be funded with $1.05 million from the Province and $700,000 will fund modular homes in Telegraph Creek.

Northwest B.C. was particularly hard hit by wildfires in 2018. On Aug. 5, 2018, Telegraph Creek was evacuated due to the 120,000-hectare Alkali Lake fire. Property losses in the community were significant. Forty-four homes, 69 outbuildings, two commercial and seven other structures were destroyed, with 21 of the homes belonging to the Tahltan Band.

“When I was in the community, I was struck by how strong and connected the Tahltan people are as a community,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Their ability to stand together is an inspiration, and I’m pleased the Province has been able to support the Tahltan with funding that is a practical tool that will help the people of Telegraph Creek continue their road through recovery.”

Since the fires, many Tahltan Band members have not been able to return to their homes since their 112-kilometre relocation to Dease Lake. An interim housing solution was devised that has allowed some residents to return to modular homes in Telegraph Creek, while others live in a refurbished housing project in Dease Lake until the community is rebuilt.

Quick Facts:

* At over 1.3 million hectares, 2018 was B.C.’s worst year for overall area burned.

* A provincial State of Emergency was in place for 24 days with 27 local authorities and 22 First Nations communities (totalling over 20,000 properties) affected by evacuation orders or alerts.

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