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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — After waiving recreation drop-in fees for evacuees from the Battleship Mountain Wildfire near Hudson’s Hope, mayor and council are looking to make free recreation activities a permanent part of the city’s Emergency Support Services.

Waiving fees automatically for evacuees received through ESS would provide activities for families displaced from their homes and ensure that the opportunity is communicated.

“That way, ESS knows it’s available,” Mayor Lori Ackerman said. “The evacuees would know that’s available.”

Waiving the fees for evacuees for the five days that Hudson’s Hope and the surrounding area were on an evacuation order was estimated to cost the city up to $1,500 if the services were used to their full capacity.

ESS’s most recent count of evacuees from the area was 613 people.

A survey poll of council was conducted to provide this opportunity, and the report was presented to be ratified in council after the fact. It recognized the importance of fun in a stressful time.

“Stress of being removed from their homes can affect individuals and families in the midst of an emergency,” it read. “Stress responses can cause emotional and physical upset. Providing recreation services and childcare opportunities can provide support in a time of need and alleviate stress for individuals displaced from their homes,” it argues. 

In addition to waiving fees for recreation, Hudson’s Hope’s own recreation department and school booked meeting rooms free of charge for recreation and childcare. The City of Fort St. John also provided, where staffing was available, extra children’s programming.

Council supported the move to make free recreation activities a permanent part of ESS. For this to be put in action, it will need to go through the Emergency Executive Committee and then return to council.

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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.