—— By Colin Dacre/Castanet

B.C.’s auditor general’s office has announced it will be examining the provincial government’s role in the rebuilding of Lytton.

The village was destroyed by fire in June 2021 and remains a burned-out shell of a community. It took until October 2023 for the first building permit to be issued for a single-family home, despite promises from politicians that residents would be supported in their recovery.

“The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness coordinates the provincial response to emergencies and disasters by working with other ministries to help local governments repair and restore affected communities,” said auditor general Michael Pickup on Wednesday.

“For example, recovery efforts may support environmental rehabilitation, infrastructure repairs, the return of evacuees, or the reopening of businesses and services.”

Pickup says his office’s examination will focus on three areas:

  • The Province of B.C.’s roles and responsibilities for disaster recovery.
  • The Province of B.C.’s support for Lytton, including the funding it contributed.
  • The challenges faced in rebuilding Lytton, and the Province of B.C.’s opportunities for improvement.

The auditor general’s report is expected to be issued early next year.

BC United MLA for Fraser-Nicola Jackie Tegart called the investigation “promising.”

“For three years, Lytton residents have been forced to live outside of their community with no clear timeline for when they will be able to return to their homes,” she said in a statement.

“On July 5, 2023, after the NDP government voted against an audit, I sent a letter formally requesting the Auditor General launch a full and transparent investigation into the delayed recovery efforts and it is encouraging that this investigation is now underway.

“It is deeply disappointing that the NDP government has not prioritized the return of residents to Lytton.”

While some homes in the surrounding areas have been rebuilt, Tegart said not a single home has been reconstructed within municipal limits.

“This investigation must be a turning point. I hope it sheds light on the delays from this government and provides a clear path forward. I will continue to press for accountability to ensure that the community of Lytton can return home,” she concluded.