Sicamous’ Mayor Darrell Trouton is hitting the road to let Alberta know the community is open for business, and that the community cares for its guests.
At last week’s council meeting, Trouton bounced the idea off of council that he would go to Calgary and, if need be, Edmonton and Vancouver, to let their municipal councils know that, contrary to the perception put out by some media outlets, Sicamous is not up to its knees in water.
“We were kicking around the idea of what we else we can do,” Trouton explained. “Myself and many others throughout the community have been on every TV station, radio station and paper that we can be and I had come forward to try to tell people that Sicamous is still alive, come and visit and holiday here. We’re not underwater.”
The mayor noted that businesses are still suffering from the impact of the June 23 flash flooding in Two Mile, and flooding from high water along the foreshore that has since dropped dramatically, and is expected to be back to normal within a couple of weeks.
Council was supportive of the mayor getting a positive message out there.
“That’s a good direction, being the ambassador for our community, saying ‘hey, we’re open for business, we didn’t fall off the map as some of the news media tells you, so don’t believe everything you read in the papers,’” commented Coun. Don Richardson.
Coun. Fred Busch was also supportive of the idea, but cautioned that inviting people to come to Sicamous while the beach is underwater might backfire.
“I think it’s a good idea and certainly we should perhaps aim to have all the publicity come just before the August long weekend because, if you’re going to say, ‘people come to Sicamous,’ what are they going to do here in Sicamous? Sitting on the beach is certainly one of the things people come for, and if we don’t have a beach, in my mind we have egg on our face because we’re inviting them to come and they don’t have anything to do.”
Interim administrator Doug Ruttan explained the idea is to get out and start promoting the community now, with the expectation that it would be roughly two weeks before there’s any impact seen in the community – in time for Saturday, Aug. 4, when the district will be holding a community celebration and fireworks display to thank everyone who helped out during the community’s recent crisis.
Regarding Busch’s concerns, Trouton noted after the meeting that while the sand at the Beach Park may still be under water, this hasn’t stopped people from enjoying the area.
Asked about the water quality at the beach, Trouton says the constant flow of the channel and the Eagle River helps to keep water in the area clean. He added that earlier concerns of fuel and sewage going into Mara Lake as a result of the flash flood in Two Mile proved to be unfounded.
“We know, during the flood, there were some large fuel tanks over at Waterway that could have been damaged, there were some sewer tanks that could have been damaged. None of it was,” said Trouton. “We know that and there have been tests by Interior Health. There is no arsenic in the water tests and that is why we’re on the Do Not Consume order but you can wash with it and so-forth.”
Interior Health sampling of water quality at the Beach Park completed on July 9 confirms E.coli and fecal coliform counts are within acceptable limits.
Along with promoting the community, Trouton said he also wants to assure Alberta residents that Sicamous endeavours to care for its guests. He referred to reports of visitors who were affected by the flash floods but were told at the evacuation centre that they weren’t eligible for assistance.
“I found out after the fact that some people from Alberta, because they didn’t live here, they weren’t set up for any kind of help,” said Trouton. “They couldn’t go back to their homes, the highways were closed, they’d just come off a boat, they didn’t have vehicles, the motels in town were full, so they were turned away – after we safely evacuated people, we got them to the centre and they were turned away, and to me that’s unacceptable.
“I’m embarrassed by that. You can call it policy, you can call it procedure, but that’s not our mandate, and that’s not the province’s mandate.”
Trouton added that Waterway Houseboats did step up to help care for those from out of province, and said he has since been informed by the province that these expenses will be covered.
“The province is coming to the table, and people need to get that message,” said Trouton. “But on top of that, Sicamous’ mandate is we take care of people here. That’s what we do and I’m proud of our community for doing that.”