The local member of Parliament commended the Agassiz Fire Department for their heroism during the 2021 atmospheric river.
Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis appeared as a delegation before the District of Kent council during their Monday (Feb. 27) meeting to commend the firefighters.
He said in Ottawa, it was difficult for most to grasp the gravity and destruction of the natural disaster that took place nearly 16 months ago.
“That was a significant event for not only Agassiz, the Fraser Valley, B.C., but all of Canada. We might not ever have an event as catastrophic as that,” Vis told the council. “We as a province were literally separated from the rest of the country; I don’t think in modern history that’s ever happened before.”
Vis said all of the firefighters played a significant role in helping the public navigate the harrowing crisis.
“Have purpose in that, find strength in that when you do your job,” Vis said. “I just want to let you know that I appreciate what you do. I appreciate that you putting your own personal safety on the line from time to time and it gets recognized and acknowledged. Thank you for your service. Thank you for rocking the free world. Thank you for helping people when they needed help the most. You guys are awesome.”
Vis presented the firefighters with certificates of appreciation and commemorative Parliament Hill pins.
Vis thanked Fire chief Gerald Basten personally, pointing out that he advocates tirelessly for the AFD to make their jobs better.
“You guys have a great guy at the helm who’s really doing his best not only to keep the community safe but to look out for each and every one of you,” Vis said. “You have a commitment from me that we’re going to continue to push this.
Mayor Sylvia Pranger also specifically thanked Basten as well, highlighting a moment when firefighters formed a human chain to rescue nine people trapped in a flooded field of debris.
Firefighters and other emergency agencies including the Royal Canadian Air Force, Hope Search and Rescue and B.C. Ambulance Service, rescued more than 300 people and two dozen animals who were stranded on Highway 7 between two landslides.
In other council business:
– Mayor Sylvia Pranger and CAO Wallace Mah delivered Vis’s Lets’emot Recreational Aquatic Centre (LRAC), signed by 240 people.
Council reviewed the document during their last meeting; Vis’s petition asks the federal government for more funding toward the construction of the LRAC.
“We are not going to stop fighting for what Agassiz should get in fairness, like other communities,” Vis said. “We’re going to get some results.”
– Council approved the appointment of eight members to the Agassiz-Harrison Mills Drainage Committee. The members are Gerald Struys, Bill Klop, Vince Vander Hoek, Wentworth Bjarnason, Detmar Schwichtenberg, Peter Pennemann, Tony Stoeckly and Mike Duncan. Coun. Duane Post will serve as chair and Coun. Kerstin Schwichtenberg will serve as alternate chair.
The next regular District of Kent Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at Municipal Hall (7170 Cheam Avenue). Online attendance is also available via Microsoft Teams; those interested can register through kentbc.ca.