Putting more money into prevention measures is one of the key recommendations of a report into last year’s record wildfire and flood seasons in BC.
Report co-chair George Abbott says it’s an area that sometimes gets overlooked.
“Government always opens its wallet for response. They have to. We need to find ways to get timely and effective investments on the prevention side as well,” Abbott, a former Liberal cabinet minister and MLA for Shuswap.
Abbott and co-chair Maureen Chapman made 108 recommendations for the government and other agencies to consider.
The pair say the thing they heard the most was the need for building partnerships with logging contractors, ranchers, and First Nations to prevent and respond to fires.
“It’s about flattening those walls and saying, ‘We’re going to communicate with everybody we need to in the region that’s being impacted,’ and not allow ourselves to be stuck in the box that we’ve had drilled into our minds that we can’t reach out to others. Well, why not?” says Chapman, a hereditary chief from the Chilliwack area.
Abbott says natural and human caused incidents like last year now have to be considered the new normal.
“Given that climate change is not about to go away, and the events of recent weeks around flooding in various areas of the province, is a reminder that 2017 is not anomalous.”
The government says based on the report, its budgeted $50 million over three years to wildfire prevention.
Wildfires and floods last year displaced 65,000 people, and the fires burned more than 1.2 million hectares, costing over $630 million.