THUNDER BAY – Our community has rallied to serve as a transportation hub for people from across our region who have been evacuated from their northern homes due to forest fires and smoke. 280 residents of the Sandy Lake First Nation have been housed at the Victoria Inn here in the city. Thousands of others have been through our city on their way to other communities far to the south of our city.
The crisis is not fully finished yet, people are awaiting the all-clear to return home.
However now, as the issue is still fresh, it is time to look at how things can be done better next time.
Should Thunder Bay be able to handle more evacuees? Our city has taken in 280 plus residents from one community. Could we do more and shelter more people?
Could the residences at Lakehead University and Confederation College serve as temporary housing in our city?
Could we be looking at this as an opportunity to engage with the people from the North, many who will likely be coming to our city one day for education?
Could this be an opportuntity to offer sort courses which would help make difference in the lives of the people being evacuated? There are several groups in our city which would be able to offer such actitivies, either where the evacuees are being housed, or in their own facilities. Is this an idea that should be examined?
What else can be done, as the hub community in Northwestern Ontario to have Thunder Bay do even better?
Over the course of the crisis, thousands of people have come through our community. Many, many people, groups and individuals have stepped up to make sure the people coming to Thunder Bay, and coming through Thunder Bay have had a positive experience.
There have been some issues which need to be addressed to help smooth the way forward for future evacuations. Starting now, engaging with the people, the politicians, the groups and the service clubs in our city, we have the opportunity to make sure that Thunder Bay can do even better in the future.
Now is the time.