Lytton residents are in an uproar over a corporate commercial that was filmed in the burned ruins of their community.
Calgary-based ATCO made the ad to mark the company’s 75th anniversary, using a cover of the song “Walking on Sunshine.”
“They’re talking about walking on sunshine; it’s more like walking through an open grave site there right now,” Tricia Thorpe, who lives just south of the townsite, told CTV News.
Another resident Michele Fiest told CTV the ad was appalling, insensitive and re-traumatizing.
“The choice of music, given that the town was destroyed by a heat dome, was particularly galling,” she said.
In response to criticism, the company said on Twitter the story in the ad is “entirely fictional.”
“A portion of this video was filmed in Lytton, B.C., where a wildfire devastated the town in 2021. ATCO has been working with the town to provide meaningful support for their recovery and rebuilding.”
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was asked about the ad in the BC legislature Thursday. He said the decision to allow the ad to be filmed was made by Lytton’s council.
“It is not something that I would have done… I find it quite mind-boggling,” Farnworth said.
Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman told CTV council approved the commercial shoot after the company offered a donation of $50,000, but that figure may now be $100,000.
“The opportunities for the village to raise funds that we can spend without approval with other levels of government are not that frequent,” Polderman told CTV. “This money will be used in the rebuild of Lytton for the benefit of residents.”
with files from CTV Vancouver