A Huge Thank You to Prince George
Prince George, B.C. – It was billed as a party to celebrate Prince George’s incredible effort to welcome and help residents of the Cariboo who were forced by wildfires to flee their homes, belongings and properties this summer. A way of thanking the volunteers and residents who said stay here, what can we do for you?
The message of thanks was repeated often at the combination party, barbecue and concert, and no more so than by folks from the Cariboo. And it all started with singer Barney Bentall who, along with the Legendary Hearts, put on a great show running an hour and 40 minutes.
Bentall, who owns a 160-acre ranch a little northwest of Clinton, told the crowd that he was “honoured to be here. I have a ranch in the Cariboo and was stuck there for 2 or 3 weeks. Couldn’t leave because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to it. It was pretty bad.” That area was threatened by the massive Elephant Hill wildfire.
Bentall said “I’m honoured to be here to say thank you to the people of Prince George. Your outpouring of care and concern for the communities was truly astounding and I was just talking to your mayor, and I think the way the city of Prince George opened up its doors so everybody could come here, and pretty much fit a Quesnel inside a Prince George, all those people, was pretty remarkable. So good for all you people.”
Bentall and his bandmates also tossed in their recollections of the very first time they had each played in Prince George, naming establishments like the Rock Pit, Generator, the Coliseum, the Canada and the Mac.
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty said “we’ve just come through an unprecedented summer, the longest State of Emergency in BC’s history. It was the largest mass evacuation in BC’s history. It saw 53-million-cubic-metres of timber scorched, but we will recover.”
“We heard heartbreaking stories, but also heard heartwarming stories. We heard of MLAs going door-to-door to make sure that her residents, constituents, friend and family got out of 100 Mile during the evacuation. We heard of a mayor in Williams Lake putting out a fire with his own garden hose and that’s Mayor Cobb.”
“And then we heard of a town called Prince George that opened their hearts and opened up their homes. You bought popsicles, gave free hugs, worked and volunteered countless hours, gave free haircuts, cooked for people. And listen, we’re here tonight to say thank you for doing that. You guys showed Canada what Prince George is all about.”
“I also want to say thank you to the first responders that were here, the RCMP, firefighters. And Mayor Hall, you and your leadership and your teams here, your volunteers that were here, you guys did an amazing job, and for that I say thank you.”
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, who had to evacuate his city but remained with a few others to do anything to save the town from being destroyed, said “I couldn’t miss tonight. And on behalf of the city and residents of Williams Lake I have a couple of presentations: a book made by one of our local businesses. They had it in their shop and let it be known it was there, so there’s a whole lot of thank you notes in here from the people that you looked after from Williams Lake.” He suggested it be put in the Prince George Public Library so everyone in the city can have a look at it.
“I have to say also that of all the people you looked after I never had one complaint about the way you guys took care of our people. I really appreciate it and they appreciate it.”
Mayor Cobb also presented a plaque to the City and people of Prince George “for your outstanding hospitality and assistance in our community during the wildfires of 2017. Thank you Prince George.”
Councillor Dave Mingo from 100 Mile House wanted to talk about only one thing, “the care, the compassion, the comfort that was provided to all of the evacuees by the staff, City of Prince George, the staff of the regional district, by all of the volunteers that put in hundreds of hours. And mostly, by all of you that welcomed all of the evacuees into your community. It was such a great thing.”
Several businesses including Husky Oil, Save-on Foods and Integris were involved in putting on the thank you party. Selen Alpay of Canadian Tire said “it’s humbling for me to stand in front of such a great, caring bunch of community-minded people. You guys are absolutely brilliant, you’re amazing.”
“I want to give a big shout out to Mayor Lyn Hall and his team, they do an incredible job. These aren’t people who sit around on their hands and look for accolades. No, they work hard. Every day through the summer they worked really hard with all the evacuees, they made things happen.”
“There aren’t enough thank yous to say thank you to you guys, but to volunteer your time and energy, opening up your homes, walking dogs, we did everything we could do to help out these 10,000 people. And for that, I’m so blessed to live in this fine community.”
Mayor Hall thanked all involved in putting on the celebration, including the corporate sponsors and the City Hall staff.
Regarding the 10,000 evacuees who came here this summer Hall says “we put a team together very, very quickly that was ready to go. They train for this, they were ready to take on any number of evacuees that we had.”
He thanked City Manager Kathleen Soltis who is the director of the Emergency Operations Centre and Fire Chief John Iverson, the EOC assistant director. “We had first responders, ambulance, fire, RCMP, everybody stepped to the plate. You heard tonight what that meant for this city and quite honestly, I’m so humbled to be the Mayor of the City of Prince George.”
“This is in fact really inspiring, you’ve done a great job….and from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of council I just what to say Thank You to the residents of Prince George for everything that you’ve done.”
Then it was up to Glass Tiger to rock the party into the night.