MLA hopes fire report findings and recommendations are acted on

Jackie Tegart wants to know time lines and budget for implementation of report recommendations.

“It’s comprehensive, and reflects some of the challenges we knew about last year,” says Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart of “Addressing the New Normal”, the report and findings of the BC Flood and Wildfire Review. “The key is how soon [the recommendations] can be implemented.

“My first question is time lines. And what is the budget? We ask how many dollars are in each ministry’s budget [for flood and fire] and the answer is zero.”

Tegart says that emergency plans in the province were not built for a mass evacuation. “They’re for a single house fire, and that’s not what we saw last year. We need planning and communication. What is the government’s plan?” She adds that she will be looking for a government response to the report’s 108 recommendations within the next week or two. [The government has stated that 19 of the report’s 108 recommendations are being implemented, although it has not identified which ones.]

“We need to look at how to prepare for another fire season like last year. People are coming to grips with climate change and are very aware of Fire Smart [programs] in our communities and the need to protect our homes. I feel people were resistant in the past to making changes.”

Tegart says that she has spoken with people in forestry, who note that fire has not been a natural part of forests for many years. “In our need to control things we’ve been resistant. After last year people are saying ‘Wow, we need to do a better job on this.’ We assumed, or hoped, it would never happen to us. Then it happened, and we couldn’t stop it.

“We learned a lot, and it’s good that it worked as well as it did, but we need to do better.”

Noting that we live in a new world of social media, with information and misinformation spreading rapidly, Tegart is glad that one of the report’s recommendations is a central information hub constantly updated with information, where people can go to get the correct info. “It will be interesting to see how the hub works.”

She also notes that last year’s fires showed very clearly the different jurisdictions involved. “People said ‘My boundary is here.’ We need to plan differently and ignore these boundaries. We need coordinated planning. Everything affects everything else. What is the funding model, what will it be for, and how accessible will it be? Fire Smart needs partnerships and funding. We’ve got the report, but if there’s no money tied to it then it just sits on a shelf.

“Last year was a learning year. We’re back in the flood and fire season now, and we need to get on this. There’s a willingness right now that we should be moving forward. Lots of people are working on this, and they’re expecting [the report] not to sit on a shelf. It means a lot to our people, and we can’t afford to wait.”

Addressing flooding—which is once more devastating many areas of the province—Tegart says that it is the new normal.

“Ranchers and farmers are seeing flooding, then drought. Where does water storage and diversion come into the plan? The report talks about disaster management, and how this is now a common event. What do we do to mitigate that before flooding starts?

“We need to put a process together that includes people who make the rules. It’s a time when things are changing. We need to balance regulations. We all want fish-bearing streams, but all levels of government need to be at the table to talk about this. Where do we allow people to build homes?

“The report is an opportunity to say ‘What does the planning process look like?’ We need to get people at the table and see what role they have to play in planning, doing the work, and paying for it. How much did floods and wildfires cost last year? How much could we have saved with mitigation? I see an opportunity, with this report, for all four levels of government to sit down and talk about what we can collectively do to help our citizens.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

$9.2 million in federal funding announced for Ashcroft Terminal

MLA calls announcement a game changer for the region

Local doctor says he has no plans to leave the community

Dr. Amgad Zake says he’s settled in after more than two years at the Ashcroft clinic.

Ashcroft student wins writing award for powerful poem

Vivian McLean’s ‘A Poem for Chocolate’ takes top prize at Kamloops young authors event.

Lace up your shoes for the eighth annual Skip’s Run

A pledge challenge is a new feature for this year’s event.

Local News Briefs: Area museums now open

Plus free workshops, a tourism symposium, a community fan-out trial, and more.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

B.C. man facing deportation says terror accusation left him traumatized

Othman Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in September

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

Will Taylor Swift’s high concert ticket prices stop scalpers?

Move by artist comes as B.C. looks to how to regulate scalpers and bots reselling concert tickets

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

Ariana Grande sends message of hope on anniversary of Manchester bombing

Prince William joins survivors and emergency workers for remembrance service

Cariboo business supplies security ATVs for 44th G7 Summit

Spectra Power Sports Ltd. of Williams Lake supplying security vehicles for G7 Summit

B.C. flood risk switches from snowmelt to rainfall: River Forecast Centre

Kootenays and Fraser River remain serious concerns

Pipeline more important than premiers meeting: Notley

“Canada has to work for all Canadians, that’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline”

Most Read