By Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart.
As we head into warmer and drier weather, many of us are concerned about wildfire season, which seems to be coming even earlier this year. The provincial government recently released its comprehensive review of last year’s wildfire response.
The report contains 108 recommendations which aim to further improve safety for British Columbians and outline systematic changes for natural disaster response.
The government says 19 of those recommendations are currently being implemented, but has not specified which ones.
Additionally, the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has stated he will develop an action plan in response to the report by October 31, well after this year’s wildfire and flood season. While it is understood that many of these practices cannot be implemented immediately, it is important that we are moving forward quickly and not repeating past mistakes.
As a member of a riding that suffered directly from last year’s wildfires and floods, the lack of a timely action plan to respond to the recent flooding threats and already active fire season is very frustrating. I believe we deserve more information regarding what our government is doing to protect B.C.’s Interior. So far, we have not heard of any concrete measures the government has taken—and there is little room in the budget for wildfire prevention.
Last year’s flood and wildfire season was extremely costly. By the time the flames were put out, B.C. had paid a total of $646 million.
So far, the Minister has only dedicated $50 million to prevention and risk reduction over three years.
I believe more can be done to prevent a large-scale disaster like the one we saw in 2017. We need to see action and to know that our government has heard our community members who are still coping with so much loss.
The full BC Flood and Wildfire Report can be found at https://bcfloodfirereview.ca.