A sense of impatience clings to the once-thriving community of Lytton, where residents are growing weary of the protracted process of rebuilding their homes. A devastating fire razed the community 841 days ago, leaving many homeless and longing for resolution. Rebuilding, however, has been hampered by complex archaeological investigations – red tape that is only serving to escalate costs and exacerbate desolation.
Brittannia Glasgow, one of the Lytton residents still without a home, sheds light on the situation: “People are enduring homeless nights. The archaeological work required on every site before we can rebuild is tying us down with red tape. The frustration is tangible.”
Indeed, this archaeological excavation is becoming a source of concern for many property owners as they’re warned of hefty bills required for these thorough site examinations. One such property owner is Lorna Fandrich, owner of the now defunct Lytton Chinese History Museum, which fell prey to the fire.
Many felt a ripple of panic on Fandrich’s disclosure of a potential $20,000 bill in order to facilitate archaeological monitoring. “A considerable number of us are underinsured and struggling even to float the idea of rebuilding. This added cost threatens to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Fandrich lamented.
Minister Bruce Ralston recognized the multifaceted complications surrounding Lytton’s rebuild and acknowledged the extensive archaeological findings. “The site has yielded about 7,000 artifacts, as well as human remains… one could argue Lytton to be one of the richest archaeological sites in North America,” Ralston said.
Despite the village having contracted a firm to undertake the archaeological work – the terms of which were mutually agreed upon between the village and the firm -, Ralston shares the community’s frustration about the slow progress, saying, “I concur that the pace of progress has been more laborious than initially anticipated. We must find a solution.”
However, having a home to return to remains a distant dream for many residents. As outlined by BC United MLA Jackie Tegart, several people are living out of their cars or motel rooms since the fire, never imagining that two-and-a-half years later it would still not be possible for them to return home.
According to Mayor Denise O’Connor, not a single home has been rebuilt in Lytton due to the extraordinary rebuilding costs. This shocking revelation only serves to underscore the residents’ growing frustration.
“We are growing weary and homesick. It’s disheartening that so little progress has been made,” says Glasgow. Fandrich adds, “Each small decision is impacting all of us significantly.” These sentiments reflect the current state of Lytton – a community that vehemently yearns for a solution.