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On June 29, 2021, the temperature in the Village of Lytton, British Columbia, reached a Canadian record-breaking high of 49.6°C. One day later, on June 30th, a wildfire started, causing catastrophic damage that destroyed over 90 percent of the town. The nearly 300 residents of the small village located approximately four hours from Vancouver were forced to evacuate and find new temporary shelter.
Considering the extent, severity and complexity of contamination within the community, the recovery plan considers significant challenges, including the need to rebuild a community resilient to future wildfires. The presence of several heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and zinc, as well as carcinogenic combustion byproducts and hazardous building materials make the remediation plan critical to the rebuilding of the village.
The Village of Lytton retained Arcadis, formerly Arcadis IBI Group, to characterize waste debris for disposal and assess soils for contamination on municipal and private properties that are uninsured and under-insured. Once the nature and extent of contamination have been established, we will develop and implement plans to remediate contaminated soil and other environmental media, such as groundwater, to ensure that each property meets applicable land-use standards under the BC Contaminated Sites Regulation and is subsequently safe for redevelopment.
The process of site remediation is particularly important, given the presence of toxic heavy metals and other contaminants that were generated during the wildfire. Ultimately, the remediation work will restore the impacted lands, ensuring it is safe to rebuild upon.
With over 83,000 hectares of village and surrounding land destroyed during the wildfire, the Village of Lytton is now on the road towards recovery. Our assessment and remediation work will facilitate the cleanup and safe restoration of the community, as they look to future-proof against future wildfires.
The destruction of major infrastructure presents an opportunity for Lytton to strategically rebuild, including the exploration of plans for a new sewage system, sustainable developments, and fire-resistant buildings.