When British Columbia suffered its worst natural disaster on record, there was a village in nearby Abbotsford that really stood out from the rest. One-time city, today ghost town; once booming city; now ghost town; once the number one most feared city in the province; now left vulnerable.
Following a wildfire that devoured 100,000 acres and forced tens of thousands of residents to flee the city, the following year Abbotsford residents would mobilize to try to rebuild — in part because they thought they could, but mostly because they didn’t want to leave their families behind. They showed up in record numbers at city council meetings, at an adoption ceremony for the pets they’d left behind. They wrote and pledged their support and generosity to keep their city afloat.
Of course, the city would suffer from the burnout. No redevelopment of the city’s historic downtown would be held. There was no NHL team to support the general businesses. The other cities along the Drive would lose their downtown businesses to the fallout of Abbotsford’s activities. Business owners would be busy determining the future of their businesses, while Abbotsford will be left unsure of what to do. A second city council meeting will also go to reconsider the city’s progress in recovering from the disaster.
With the help of the city council, the government, and the Province of British Columbia, Abbotsford has pulled through — partially — from an unthinkable disaster, but also at a crossroads, waiting for what comes next.