Earlier this week, heavy rain led to flooding and landslides in several parts of British Columbia. Our thoughts are with all the communities who have been affected by these devastating weather events and we extend our thanks to the emergency personnel and volunteers working hard to assist those in need.
In Kelowna, we are fortunate to not have been severely impacted by flooding and local accommodators and businesses are assisting evacuees. Our team continues to monitor the situation closely, particularly as it relates to travel throughout the province, and will provide information to visitors, residents, and local businesses to keep them updated on local conditions, and to help them make informed decisions and stay safe.
Current Emergency Situation
The Government of BC declared a state of emergency, effective November 17, to ensure impacted communities can get the essential goods and emergency services required. Officials continue to assess the damage to roadways throughout the province, many of which are closed or limited to one-way traffic. In a live update on Friday, November 19, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, issued two new orders under the Emergency Programs Act, one of which prohibits non-essential travel along routes that have been severely impacted. For more information on these orders, view the Government of BC press release. Destination BC (DBC) has also prepared a special edition of its messaging guidance for the tourism industry, specific to the current emergency situation.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has stated that exemptions to current COVID-19 border measures will be in effect for those travellers who must transit through the U.S. to get to their place of residence. More information can be found on DBC's Emergency Preparedness page.
Information regarding highway closures and transportation can be found on the DriveBC and TranBC websites and social media channels. To assist those in need of transportation, Swoop has added new flights between Abbotsford Airport (YXX) and Kelowna International Airport (YLW) for travel on or between November 22 and December 15, 2021, with prices ranging from $79 to $99 CAD.
- Public health and safety remain our collective priority. While Kelowna did not sustain significant damage or infrastructure loss from flooding, several communities have. We ask travellers to adhere to all guidance from emergency response officials, including avoiding non-essential travel to and through affected areas. Local accommodators and businesses are assisting evacuees from other communities. Thank you to everyone that is working hard to help those needing extra help and support.
- Stay informed. Stay safe. If you do need to travel, please know before you go. BC’s highways and transportation systems sustained significant damage due to recent extraordinary weather and it will take significant time to repair. Assessment, clean-up, and recovery efforts are underway. Several highways remain closed at this time or have restricted access to essential travel only. Unless it is essential, now is not the time to travel to or through affected areas. Check DriveBC and EmergencyInfoBC for updates and details. Destination BC's Know Before You Go page provides helpful information and Tourism Kelowna's visitor experience team is also available to assist visitors in our region. Please continue to stay informed through official information sources that are providing important updates for your safety.
What can Your Business do to Help During Emergencies?
Emergency situations caused by significant weather events impact locals, visitors, and businesses in many ways and can potentially affect or influence those who may travelling or be planning a trip to our province. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Only share information from official sources—refer to the links and key messages in this post to keep visitors and locals informed.
- Help your customers as much as possible. Many will be seeking information on local conditions or flexibility with their reservations or bookings. Do what you can to help each other.
- Share the link to our Current Conditions in Kelowna webpage, which includes a live feed from our webcam located at the Kelowna Visitor Centre that can be viewed anytime as well as links to other helpful resources.
- For emergency situations affecting our region:
- Share information and updates about your business by tagging us—and using #exploreKelowna—on social media and by contacting our Visitor Experience Team so we can keep visitors and residents informed.
Helpful Resources to Stay Safe and Stay Informed
Sharing information from official sources only is extremely important during emergency situations, like floods and wildfires. Below are resources where you'll find reliable, up-to-date information that can inform your team, visitors, and locals. Be sure to distribute these resources to your team members and follow the social media accounts listed throughout for the most current information.
- Find information about emergencies in the province, including evacuation orders and alerts, travel and tourism information, and details regarding Emergency Support Services Reception Centres.
- Follow EmergencyInfoBC on Twitter.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre
- Visit cordemergency.ca for information on any current emergencies in the Central Okanagan Regional District.
- Follow Central Okanagan Emergency Operations on Twitter.
- Destination BC (DBC) has compiled a robust directory of resources for tourism industry members on their Emergency Preparedness page, where you can also access messaging guidance, key messages, infographics, and more.
- Connect with DBC on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA)
- TOTA's Know Before You Go page provides a variety of resources and important updates for the region.
- Connect with TOTA on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Our Current Conditions in Kelowna webpage provides a variety of useful links, including contact information for our Visitor Experience team, and displays #RealTimeKelowna views from our webcam at the Kelowna Visitor Centre.
- Connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter for industry updates.
Government of BC Resources
BC Emergency Support Services
- BC residents who are forced to evacuate in the event of an emergency (i.e. fire, flood, etc.) can self-register for assistance and support through the BC Emergency Support Services website.
- Information regarding Provincial campgrounds and park closures.
- Follow BC Parks on Facebook and Instagram.
- Find information about road closures, major events, and transportation delays.
- Follow DriveBC on Twitter.
- PreparedBC has created step-by-step guides specific to the tourism industry, which will help ensure you and your team are ready in an emergency situation:
- Follow PreparedBC on Facebook and Twitter.
Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.
- Find alerts, closures, and warnings regarding BC’s rustic campsites and recreational trails, and access an interactive map
Supports for Businesses Impacted by Disasters
- Visit this page on the Government of BC website for links to a variety of provincial and federal support programs for businesses impacted by disasters.
- Follow the Government of BC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Information and updates from BC's Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
- Follow TranBC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
If you have questions or need further information about Tourism Kelowna's marketing and communications activities during emergency situations, please contact our Director of Marketing & Communications, Chris Shauf at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250) 861-1515 ext. 203.