The 2017 B.C. wildfire season burned a record area, and revealed gaps in preparation for communities. (Black Press files)

B.C. braces for another year of floods and fires

First Nations partnerships, fuel management need work, report says

An independent review of B.C.’s record 2017 fire and flood season has recommended improving the emergency management network with local communities and shifting land management to prepare better for fire.

With flooding already underway in parts of B.C. after a second winter of heavy snow, the review found that large areas of the province lack flood plain maps, or have maps that are out of date due to weather and terrain shifts.

With wildfires, traditional forest management that preserves logging-free views along highways and around communities has been found to increase risk when fires take place. Recommendations include making fire prevention a principle of land management, and establishing area-based forest tenures around communities that don’t have community forests they can manage themselves.

The review was conducted by former forests and Indigenous relations minister George Abbott and Sto:lo Nation Chief Maureen Chapman, appointed by Premier John Horgan after last year’s record season.

Abbott noted that last year’s fire season started on July 7, with a lightning storm in the Cariboo after a long dry spring that started 160 fires in a single day. A similar storm in the Okanagan would have had similar results, and luck spared the region that was severely affected by the fires of 2003, he said.

The large-scale evacuations of communities led to 62,000 people applying for emergency social assistance, using a system that was set up to respond to house fires and similar emergencies. One of the recommendations is to replace the paper-based payment system with electronic registration and payment.

In touring the fire-affected regions, Chapman said she heard “absolute frustration and hopelessness” from First Nations communities about a lack of communication with the provincial emergency system. In some cases, communities weren’t given provincial permission to use the equipment they had.

“Some of the First Nations communities went ahead and did it anyway, without permission,” Chapman said. “There are no reserve lands when a fire or a flood is coming at you.”

B.C. Liberal forest critic John Rustad, who was minister for last year’s floods and part of the record wildfire season, said he’s encouraged by the findings of the report.

One recommendation he said he will be asking Donaldson about is the suggestion of additional carbon tax to pay for disaster preparation.

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

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

No suitors emerge for pipeline project stake as Kinder Morgan deadline looms

Analysts and observers remain perplexed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s comment last week that “plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”.

Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s volcano sends lava nearby

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation in Hawaii

Trump seethes over Russia probe, calls for end to ‘SPYGATE’

“SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Trump said on Twitter

Grads receive BC Transit passes

BC Transit provides passes to graduating students in more than 50 communities

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Literary agent Andrew Wylie said Roth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure.

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

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

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

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

Most Read