A lot of businesses in the sunny Okanagan depend upon the flow of cash from the river of money that tourists bring to beautiful B.C. But this year because of the wild fires all those loonies dried up and blew away in a puff of smoke.

Even though the OK valley was okay as far as not having any major fires burning in our area – the media grabbed onto the story like a puppy goes for a slipper – and they wouldn’t let it go.

Day in and day out, the news blared that the province was on fire, with film on the hour every hour. To the media a story is like a dog with a bone. Even though there isn’t any meat left on it, they’ll still fight, scratch and bite at it until it’s all gone.

A lot of our tour-trade is with Americans, who are just looking for a friendly place to take a vacation, where being a Yank won’t get you scoffed at or shot at just because of your elected president.

But again, the media just added fuel to the BC fires. By simply turning on the boob tube, you’d think the entire province, from the 49th parallel to the Alaskan pan-handle was ablaze, an inferno or as one broadcaster said: “It’s hell on earth!”

All this chatter lead to Twitter and soon Instagram and Facebook joined in and spread the word faster than (ironically) a grass fire. It wasn’t long before ABC, NBC, CNN and CBC were highlighting BC. All of this electronic buzz, it made our province about as popular a vacation hot-spot as Syria.

I’ll admit that there were a lot of fires this year, but not everywhere was a blaze. Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and the Okanagan were open for business, but that didn’t make news.

While the world stayed away in droves, businesses here had to stay open. They’d already paid for their summer inventory, advertised and hired extra staff. I can only imagine it would be like holding an ice cream and watching it melt all over your hand.

As a writer I’d say that I have some sway on the way you may pay it forward today (try writing that four times fast).

This is what I’d like you to do: Facebook, Snapshot, Instagram and Twitter away the message: Va-Ka in your own back yard. Hashtag that my fellow Okanaganites.

We all know someone who works in the tourist industry or maybe even owns a small shop in valley. So instead of hopping on a jet plane, go to a downtown near you.

Have you ever seen a Sicamous sunset, ogled an Osoyoosite or loitered around Lumby?
Even better yet stay right here in Westbank. Pick a world famous Okanagan apple, drink in the view from a vineyard or maybe even a naughty night in a local hotel.

I have one more thing to suggest to my dear readers: if you see someone scoff at campfire bans or throw a cigarette out of a car window – rat the rat out!

At the same time you’re calling *5555 on your cell phone, to report the fire-bug, imagine all the pain and loss people endure because of someone’s ignorance.

Back in days of yore, before the invasion, we Natives would use fire to control fire, burning as the snows melted – simple.


Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at: