The Precipice Fire has since calmed down but was a threat to surrounding homes for nearly the entire summer

Bella Coola economy suffers effects of 2017 wildfire season

The province has spent just $543 million in fighting wildfires so far this year

The province has spent just $543 million in fighting wildfires so far this year, and that’s just costs directly associated with suppressing the hundreds of blazes around the province.

Despite not knowing the final cost, Premier John Horgan says this year’s record wildfire season won’t burn a hole in the province’s next budget.

“I talked to (Finance Minister) Carole James about that as we laid out our fiscal plan last week and she’s confident that we’ll continue to be able to balance the budget and meet the extraordinary cost of suppression of the fires this year,” Horgan said.

Bella Coola felt the brunt of the brutal wildfire season right in its collective pocketbook. Tourism bookings were down almost 90 percent in July and August, and many businesses suffered with lack of supplies due to the volatile conditions across Highway 20, which resulted in frequent and sudden closures.

The Bella Coola Valley Tourism’s Visitor Information Booth saw its visits decline by almost 50 percent. So far it has recorded a total of 749 visitors as opposed to 1298 from the 2016 season. However, things have improved since the beginning of September and the onset of the popular bear-viewing season.

“There were still across-the-board visitor cancellations due to reliability concerns of Highway 20, but after a dismal summer season September gave most Valley tourism businesses a much-needed boost,” said Tom Hermance, President of Bella Coola Valley Tourism. “Bear-viewing operators and tour guides saw the greatest share of tourists, though the numbers are still lower than average. Early reservations for next summer are coming in at a faster rate than in previous years, due to BC Ferries’ direct service announcement.”

The Central Coast Regional District’s Community Economic Development Officer, Bridget Horel, conducted a survey with local businesses in regard to the wildfire’s impacts.

CCRD Chair Alison Sayers had this to say about the survey.

“A total of 40 businesses responded to the BC Wildfire Business Impact Survey for the Central Coast. All of these businesses indicated that they had been impacted by the BC Wildfires,” said Sayers. “72 percent of businesses indicated that the impacts would result in a decrease in revenue with some businesses anticipating a decrease of more than 50 percent.”

Sayers said that the unpredictability of the highway closures topped the list of concerns, along with issues getting supplies and the loss of customers.

“Looking forward, the most commonly identified area for support was marketing to get customers back,” Sayers said. “Support with supply chain issues such as transportation and access to suppliers, along with operating capital, and contingency planning were also identified.”

Our local situation appears to line up with what the premier said last week. According to Horgan, the challenges will be dealing with the consequences for small businesses and the economy following the province rescinding of the state of emergency.

Making his first appearance as Premier at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention, Horgan pledged to help local governments deliver on these challenges.

“Local governments are on the front lines of big challenges facing people and communities. But for too long they haven’t been given the help they need,” Horgan said. “We’re listening and working in partnership with local leaders to find solutions and respond to urgent issues like wildfires, housing and the overdose crisis.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Over 5 million of funding announced for Nuxalk Big House and CCRD parks project

The funding is joint federal, provincial and municipal and will support 24 infrastructure projects

DFO Monitors keeping watch as commercial fishery opens up

Volunteer DFO Monitors have been onsite to ensure requirements are met

Cariboo waterways swell as special weather statement, rain continues Thursday July 2

Quesnel River at Likely and Quesnel Lake seeing 20 to 50 year events

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Commercial fishery closed tonight due to local concerns

The fishery was supposed to open tonight

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read