The B.C. government has committed another $18.4 million to begin cleanup of the fire-ravaged village of Lytton, with work to start on debris removal of municipal properties this week.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Monday the new funds will cover debris removal, archaeological work and soil remediation for all the uninsured and under-insured properties, financing removal of ash, soot, bricks, metal and other debris from more than 200 properties. Work on private properties will begin as soon as possible, starting with removal of toxic material.
“The funding announced today will clear the way for the rebuilding of Lytton,” Farnworth said March 7, in addition to more than $8 million committed in February to restore lost village records and repair the water and sewer systems of the village.
The project includes temporary accommodations at the village site for as many as 30 staff. Following the debris removal, the province will co-ordinate and fund archeological work that would otherwise be covered by the residents. Lytton is a site of cultural importance, one of the oldest continually inhabited sites in B.C., and the work aims to identify and preserve any findings in the area, working with the Nlaka’pamux Nation, whose reserve was also heavily damaged by fire.
Farnworth said the province is also covering the costs of archaeological work on the site where a Chinese museum was among the buildings destroyed.
Residents of the Fraser Canyon community, mostly destroyed by fire for the third time in its history, have been in motels and other emergency accommodation for more than eight months. Initial work to remove toxic materials and allow volunteers to sift through the ashes for personal possessions that survived the fire have taken longer than expected, partly due to the mid-November rain and floods that cut Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, the main highway access to Lytton.