Wildfire near West Kelowna could put critical infrastructure at risk: MP

A raging wildfire near West Kelowna has hundreds of properties on evacuation order, and a local MP says this situation puts critical infrastructure in the area at risk.

Data from the BC Wildfire Service shows that the out-of-control McDougall Creek Fire is about 10 kilometres from West Kelowna, and is 1,100 hectares in size.

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Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola Member of Parliament Dan Albas tells CityNews it has long been a concern that a wildfire could effectively shut off power in West Kelowna, Peachland, and the Westbank First Nation.

“There’s no backup for the hydro lines that come from BC Hydro and this is something that the mayor and council have been raising continually with BC Hydro and the province,” he said.

Albas says an issue with the region’s power lines would cause trouble for local businesses and economy in addition to putting locals in a situation where they don’t have power.

He adds that the Rosewood Valley Water Treatment Plant — a facility currently under construction — is a major concern as well.

“That’s some of the civic infrastructure that is just getting finished and ready to come online,” Albas explained. “So, we’re concerned about that property being protected because it’s such a big investment from federal, provincial, and municipal coffers.”

“That is the challenge that they’re facing right now is — getting everything together and making sure that people and property are protected. Particularly those municipal assets that all of us as taxpayers have invested so much in.”

According to its website, the Rosewood Valley Water Treatment Plant is “the single largest construction project the City of West Kelowna has undertaken.” The $75 million project has been under construction since 2020.

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