Shuswap newlyweds grateful for CSRD support

Cynthia Bentley feared nine months of wedding planning would fizzle out.

The 65-year-old Century 21 Lakeside real estate agent was evacuated when the Bush Creek East Fire raged in Celista on Aug. 18.

Thinking she, her future husband and guests wouldn’t be able to travel the Squilax-Anglemont Road to their wedding venue near Seymour Arm on September 9, Bentley was sure her wedding dreams were shattered.

“Call the Regional District of Columbia Shuswap Emergency Operations Center,” his daughter, Jolene, advised him. “What do you have to lose? They can say no, but then again, they can say yes.

The response to his September 2 call was an enthusiastic “yes” from CSRD Executive Director and current COE Director John MacLean.

“Tell her we’ll do whatever it takes to make her wedding happen,” he replied with a huge smile, while others enthusiastically suggested moving the wedding party and guests to the lake by barge.

Overwhelmed with relief, Bentley sobbed at the news that she and Gord Stevens would be married within the week.

“You are my fairy godmother,” she said through tears.

The couple’s journey to marriage was difficult.

Bentley and Stevens met a second time in 2019. Their renewed friendship blossomed into romance and the future looked bright. But in late August 2021, Stevens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Thus began a frightening and life-threatening medical battle that resulted in Stevens being put into an induced coma.

“When he came out of the coma, he said, ‘The first person I thought of was you.’ I had to live to be with you,’” Bentley said emotionally. “I knew then he was going to make it.”

Plans to have a wedding in beautiful Seymour Arm, a place they both love, began, but were threatened by the Bush Creek East wildfire.

Shattered by the prospect of not being able to get married as planned, Bentley said she and her guests were overwhelmed by the regional district’s willingness to make the wedding happen.

“Our wedding guests couldn’t believe they would do this,” she says. “People cared and wanted something good to come out of something so tragic.”

At the wedding, Bentley wore red, the color of love, and his daughter’s dress was yellow to symbolize hope. She was given away by her sons Jason and Jory, and her son John’s four-year-old daughter, Miley, served as her maid of honor.

Although the Squilax-Anglemont route was opened in time for guests, photographer and caterer to travel to Seymour Arm last Saturday, Bentley remains grateful to CSRD.

“The intention was always there, and I think that was the important part,” she says. “Wow! Someone actually listened, heard and cared.

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2023 British Columbia wildfiresRegional District of Columbia Shuswap


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