VICTORIA – The mayor of the fire-ravaged community of Lytton, B.C., says rewriting the village’s bylaws from scratch will be about as entertaining as going to the dentist but it’s another step in the massive rebuilding effort.
The village’s records and backup servers were lost in last summer’s wildfire, with the content of many of its bylaws now left unknown, Mayor Jan Polderman said Wednesday.
“Our server, our backup server and most of our records were lost in the fire,” he said. “We’ve been able to retrieve some of it, but some of it has been irretrievable, so we’re going to have to write new bylaws.”
Polderman described the process of rewriting the village’s governance bylaws and policies as an arduous but necessary undertaking.
“Yes, I could go to the dentist and have just as much fun,” he said.
The fire destroyed much of the small Fraser Canyon community last June, just one day after the temperature there hit an all-time Canadian high of 49.6 C.
Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne introduced legislation Wednesday that will allow Lytton to replace and rewrite its governance laws destroyed in the disaster.
She said the legislation will help Lytton recreate its bylaws to support its governance and administration.
“It’s a very difficult time for people in Lytton,” said Osborne. “This is just one piece in a whole suite of supports that we’ve been offering.”
Lytton needs to replace its records management, regulatory and administrative bylaws and land-use rules for building and zoning, she said.
The government also announced $8.3 million in funding to support ongoing operations and recovery for the village, she said.
Osborne said the money will help with repairing the village’s water and wastewater systems, debris removal and environmental and archeological remediation.
“At this time what we are doing is keeping them whole as well as providing funding for them for their core operations to get them some peace of mind in the coming years that the village can continue to operate and that council and staff can continue to deliver the services that people really need right now,” she said.
Polderman said the village has already formulated an elections procedure bylaw in order to ensure a mail-in byelection can be held for two council positions.
He said about $2 million of the $8.3 million will go toward village operations while the remaining funds will be used to cover clean-up costs.
“We can anticipate the debris removal to begin at the beginning of March,” he said. “I’m hoping that by this fall we’ll have the site cleaned up and building houses can start. There’s no electricity, no water, no sewer in town now.”
Feature image: Damaged structures are seen in Lytton, B.C., on Friday, July 9, 2021, after a wildfire destroyed most of the village on June 30. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck