Big White Ski Resort Rallies for Evacuees in the Okanagan Region
Given the monumental challenges of the 2023 wildfires, Big White Ski Resort is incredibly proud of its staff and community response to assisting wildfire evacuees in the Okanagan. The devastating state of emergency has brought over a thousand evacuees into the community, and the resort remains committed to supporting evacuees and their families in challenging times such as these.
"Instead of putting our heads down, we look after the people because this is their second home," Peter Plimmer, President and CEO of Big White Ski Resort.
Typically, Big White Ski Resort is open from Thursday to Sunday and holiday Mondays throughout the summer. However, as of Friday, August 18, the resort began closing its resort for regular operations and opening its doors to members of evacuated communities seven days a week with limited services.
Simultaneously, when the evacuation orders and alerts began in the Okanagan region, Big White's entire community stepped up to the plate and pulled out all the stops at every level possible. Big White Ski Resort is incredibly proud of what has occurred in this special and inspirational community. The resort will continue to expand offerings to evacuees where ever possible. Please continue to follow the website for updates.
A Shelter in the Storm: As wildfires raged through the Okanagan, many families found themselves displaced from their homes, searching for safety. Big White Ski Resort's team and community members quickly transformed the Village into an unexpected sanctuary. An astounding 1875 people sought refuge on the mountain Saturday night, a stark contrast to the typical three to four hundred visitors. The resort quickly adapted to the situation, providing a safe haven for those in need.
Offering a Hand for Evacuees: Among the evacuees are many families and some who have never been to Big White. In response, the resort staff are rallying to guide and support these newcomers, ensuring they feel welcomed and comfortable. Their kindness and willingness to assist highlighted the true spirit of the community.
Facility Access and Limited Services: Understanding the urgent needs of evacuees, Big White Ski Resort has opened its facilities, including public washrooms. Restaurants are operating with limited staff and are extending their hours to provide meals to the evacuees. Although operating with limited programming, the Kids Centre is now open, aimed to keep children occupied and engaged while their parents dealt with the challenges they were facing.
A Commitment to Families and Children: Big White Ski Resort made it clear that its priority is to look after families and children displaced by these fires. Despite limited staff, the team at Big White is committed to doing everything possible to make this difficult time a little bit easier for the affected families. Therefore, the resort has opened the Kids Center for parents and their children from 9 am to 3 pm, seven days a week (until further notice) and will provide unsupervised free activities for children ages five to 12. Kids must bring their water bottles and are encouraged not to bring food. Wifi is available and free for parents to use while supervising their children.
Community Support and Fundraising: On Sunday, August 20, Big White Ski Resort hosted a complementary (or by donation) pancake breakfast attended by over 500 people. This event raised over $1000 for Mamas for Mamas, highlighting the power of coming together in times of crisis.
Expanding Services and Hours: Big White Ski Resort expanded its operations from four to seven days a week to meet the increasing demand. Restaurants within the resort extended their hours to accommodate the growing community's needs.
Accommodation Options: Big White had approximately 40 RVs on Saturday night and had the capacity for several hundred more. Accommodation partners followed the guidance of the BC Hotel Association, registering available units for evacuees and emergency personnel.
Prioritizing Safety: Due to BC's state of emergency issued on Friday, August 18, Big White Ski Resort is not encouraging people to visit Big White. The resort is only open to members of its community and those evacuated from residences in the Central Okanagan Region. Please visit the BC Government website for up-to-date wildfire information and BC emergency notifications: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status
Big White Ski Resort is exceptionally proud of those who have participated in its response to the local State of Emergency and is a shining example of community solidarity and compassion. Evacuees and all interested parties are encouraged to continue checking our website for operational updates. If fire and smoke conditions do not improve in the upcoming days, the resort will remain open and continue to provide a refuge for impacted members of the Okanagan Region.
As the resort continues to adapt to the evolving situation, this crisis reminds us of the importance of coming together during difficult times in our communities. The unwavering commitment to supporting families and children demonstrates the true essence of community spirit. Thank you to everyone who has shown their support, and our hearts continue to go out to those who have been impacted by these devastating wildfires.
For more updates on all resort services, including accommodation and hours of operation, please visit Big White Accommodation Available for Wildfire Evacuees
Smoking of any kind (including tobacco, marijuana, e-cigarettes and vaporizers) is strictly prohibited anywhere on Big White Ski Resort property outside of designated smoking areas. Applies to summer and winter seasons. Mountain Safety Info >>