BLUE SKIES While fires are burning elsewhere in the South Okanagan and Similkameen, the sky is clear and bright at Sunoka Provincial Park in Summerland. David Hull, executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, believes the term “Smokanagan” is an inaccurate descriptor this summer. (John Arendt/Summerland Review)

Summerland chamber director objects to ‘Smokanagan’ moniker

Tourism businesses struggling, even though fire season far less severe than previous two years

While some large wildfires have been burning in the region, the executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce takes issue with the term “Smokanagan” to describe the valley during the fire season.

“There is nothing at all, at this time, to indicate that we are returning to the smoky skies of the last two summers,” said David Hull. “There’s a slight haze, but it’s not like last year.”

READ ALSO: No more Smokanagan, let’s claim summer back

His comments came after one Okanagan media outlet used the word “Smokanagan” in a headline. The headline was later changed.

Hull’s objection to “Smokanagan” in the headline because of its potential effects on tourism in the region.

The summer of 2017 and the summer of 2018 were the worst B.C. wildfire seasons on record in terms of the number of fires, the amount of land burned and the costs of fighting fires.

Tourism-related businesses are still feeling the effects of those fire seasons, and those businesses which rely on tourism have been struggling this year.

“We have to rebuild our bright, sunny Okanagan reputation,” Hull said. “Tourism’s a big part of the economy.”

READ ALSO: The Smokanagan, Part One: How wildfire smoke affects children

READ ALSO: The Smokanagan, Part two: Physical health effects

READ ALSO: The Smokanagan, Part three: Mental health effects

While the skies in many parts of the Okanagan are not smoky, Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the South Okanagan, from Summerland to Osoyoos and Keremeos.

“During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour,” the air quality statement reads. “If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.”

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