It has been a tense summer in British Columbia for those directly affected by the wildfires. The total number of people displaced by the fires is now estimated at being over 46,000, becoming one of the largest displacement events in the history of the province. Rob and his wife from Williams Lake, BC were packed and ready to go after being placed on evacuation alert at the beginning of July. After days of anxious waiting with smoke and flames in the distance, on July 15, 2017 the evacuation order came for residents of Williams Lake to leave their homes due to a number of wildfires burning in the region. Most residents proceeded to Kamloops in a long line-up of slow traffic with smoke billowing in around them.
“The support we received in Kamloops was excellent,” says Rob, “but due to the heavy smoke we decided to continue down to Vancouver Island.” “I have Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which makes it even more difficult to breathe.” It was then a waiting period to find out when he and his wife could return home. They decided to spend some time in the central area of Vancouver Island in the community of Fairwinds in Nanoose Bay, BC. "Of course I brought the most important things with me," says Rob, “photos, my computer, family heirlooms, medication and… my golf clubs!”.
Feeling relieved with the increased air quality, golfing was on the list to pass the time. What Rob didn’t expect was the warm welcome he would receive at Fairwinds. Everyone was so friendly and after playing a round of golf Rob was personally welcomed by Brett Standerwick, Director of Golf at Fairwinds. “I got to meet Brett, he is quite an engaging person, we had a good little chat, he gave us a special welcome when he heard of our situation!".
After spending some time exploring in the area and enjoying the calm of some of the local beaches, Rob and his wife are now considering moving to the Fairwinds community. “We really enjoyed the natural beauty, everything is so green and lush and it is such a nice set up with the residential area, the gym, the marina development… and the reasonable golfing prices,” says Rob.
Rob says concerning his stressful situation, “We will always remember the kindness that was shown to us this summer.”
Although the B.C. government has extended the state of emergency covering the entire province of B.C. until Sept.1, progress is being made in containing the fires.
Campfire bans and backcountry restrictions have been lifted in B.C. as wildfire risk drops.