'Spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country' shines through in an emergency

MP praises wildfire response

Thank you for supporting our community

It is with the utmost gratitude that I want to thank all responders and volunteers who helped save lives and protect and support our community during this very difficult time.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is activated during a major emergency, where municipal and provincial representatives from our region come together to coordinate responses and resources, facilitate decisions and where all official communications regarding the emergency originate. Continue to follow cordemergency.ca for updates.

The EOC has been called a “gold standard” for emergencies in Canada.

We heard over and over at the news conferences how resources from various jurisdictions were working closely together to save lives and property. The day the state of emergency was declared in the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country, I formally requested to the federal emergency preparedness minister to take whatever steps were necessary to expedite requests of the EOC, and I continued to reiterate this.

I can say, on a personal note, I have seen civil servants and locally elected leaders from all levels of government communicating and working together during the emergency to keep people safe and get information out.

As we emerge from this immediate crisis, we have to recognize the great loss that will affect many for a long time. We have to remember most lost “structures” are homes. Not only will there be property and both personal and business financial losses, but supporting each other’s mental wellness will also be important.

Residents have been calm and overwhelmingly compassionate opening their homes and hearts. It was important for me to visit the emergency shelter at Prospera Place (in Kelowna) and the Emergency Support Services location at Royal LePage Place (in West Kelowna) to connect with organizers there.

Though there will likely be operational lessons learned, all staff and volunteers I spoke with were trying their hardest to serve and help as best they could.

It was an honour to volunteer at the Salvation Army Kelowna’s Emergency Disaster Services kitchen stationed at the firefighting base camp at UBC Okanagan, which fed hundreds of firefighters from our community and from outside our region.

While I volunteered beside someone whose family lost their home, I heard how many restaurants and caterers were donating substantial quantities of food and high-quality meals to feed to firefighters. I’ve run into many people who, like myself, volunteered and supported the Central Okanagan Food Bank during the past week. I extend my thanks to you.

There are many stories emerging across the community of what I’ve often called “The Spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country”. Thank you to the many cultural groups, worship centres, businesses and charities doing what they can to provide food and needed supplies to our community members. There will be an ongoing need at local food banks to maintain supplies and I’ve heard one of the best ways to help people is to donate or volunteer at food banks and other local not-for-profits as they have distribution and organizational capabilities.

It will also be important to support our local businesses now more than ever. As well, if it’s possible to buy locally made products to donate, that helps the greater community even more.

My constituency office team is always here to help as best it can with any federal services. Thank you again to all civil servants, responders, community organizations, businesses and (residents) helping people in whatever ways they can. Stay safe and stay well.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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