Focusing on fire victims

Whatever else can be said about major disasters, they do have a way of focusing one’s priorities.

When the B.C. Interior erupted into a scene from Dante’s Inferno starting last week, even warring provincial politicians were compelled to set aside their differences to ensure firefighting efforts were maximized and thousands of evacuees were assisted.

“This is no time for politics,” NDP premier-designate John Horgan said as he met with soon-to-be-outgoing Liberal cabinet ministers in the wake of the conflagration.

While their plight was dwarfed by the multiple Interior wildfires — quite literally overnight — victims displaced by last Thursday’s major apartment fire in Parksville were also placed at the centre of attention by local emergency services.

Almost within minutes of their forced evacuation from the Ocean Terrace Apartments, the residents were welcomed into a hastily prepared reception centre at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. Hot drinks, essential toiletries and accomodating Emergency Social Services workers were made available to try to make them comfortable and begin the laborious process of finding short-term housing for both people and pets.

Within a day, aid for the displaced fire victims began its inevitable shift to the private sector, as the local Salvation Army chapter took the lead in collecting donations and assembling a list of potential billet homes for couples, individuals or pets.

As with the provincial and federal resources being thrown into the flames of Ashcroft, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, nobody has asked who’s going to pay for all the initial public aid, and how much is this costing taxpayers, anyway?

There will be time for finger-pointing and, in all likelihood, litigation, in the coming weeks, months and possibly years. And there are likely to be hard-luck and hardship stories from some of the fire evacuees whose long-term treatment may not be quite as tender as it was when they were offered a hot coffee and a soft shoulder in the reception centre.

But somehow, whether on the left, the right or somewhere on the spectrum known as centre, people seem to find common ground in the idea that victims of disasters must be served first.

The cynic, of course, will be happy to point out Horgan’s “This is no time for politics” comment can be taken as a political statement in its own right.

But that doesn’t make it wrong.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach on path to ban plastic bags

Bylaw will get legal advice prior to third reading

RDN to improve ways to deal with bylaw disputes

New system being explored that will be more efficient and effective

Hotel, restaurant and multi-use residential complex proposed for Resort Drive

Parksville could soon see more rental units, some zoned for commercial use

Inside the music: step behind the curtain at the venerable Vancouver Island Music Festival

Big Read: VIMF in the Comox Valley exemplifies the spirit of an Island summer music festival

ECHO Players’ 2018/19 season announced

Qualicum Beach theatre company to show Peter Pan musical, Enchanted April and more

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

POLL: Do you use the bus system regularly

Question of the week, July 17

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Most Read