The charred Ocean Ridge complex in Five Corners will be the backdrop for an event next week celebrating first responders and how the community pulled together during and after the massive May 15 fire in White Rock.
Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg said Wednesday the June 29 event – set for 4-7 p.m. and to include a barbecue, entertainment and words in the parking lot of the Star of the Sea Community Hall, which was also damaged in the blaze – is about “showing support for each other.”
“It’s symbolic and it’s about moving on, but it’s also about saying thank you,” Hogg said.
Nearly 100 residents were left homeless by the early-morning fire, which police have deemed was deliberately set.
It broke out immediately south of the Ocean Ridge, at an under-construction condominium complex. That structure was destroyed in the blaze; the four-storey Ocean Ridge suffered significant fire, smoke and water damage. A dozen ground-level businesses were also impacted.
Hogg said the community’s response to the catastrophe was swift, with offers to help pouring in – from clothing and food donations, to offers of vehicle loans and temporary housing – almost immediately.
Acknowledging that such offers are not uncommon in any community affected by a disaster, Hogg described the extent to which Semiahmoo Peninsula residents and businesses stepped up as “unique.”
“So many neat people did so many different things,” Hogg said. “In your large metropolitan areas, it doesn’t happen quite as well.”
The June 29 celebration – an effort that also involves the Knights of Columbus, the City of White Rock, Sources, the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Semiahoo First Nation – is also an opportunity to thank the first responders. While they were simply doing their jobs, it’s important to recognize that an event of such magnitude is one that can weigh on those involved long after the flames have been extinguished, Hogg said.
Firefighters and trucks from both White Rock and Surrey will be on hand. Hogg said some of the residents who were displaced are expected to speak at Wednesday’s event, which is free and open to everyone.
He emphasized it is not a fundraiser, but an informal time co-ordinated in response to hearing from various individuals and groups of a common desire to celebrate the community coming together.
“Hopefully, we’ve been able to co-ordinate what people were trying to do and trying to express,” Hogg said.
The parking lot is located behind the 15262 Pacific Ave. hall.