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winter of heavy snow, the review found that large areas of the province lack flood plain maps, or have maps that are out of date due to weather and terrain shifts.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

UPDATED: Pedestrian fatally hit on railway in Agassiz

Police, fire and ambulance responded

Fraser River at Chilliwack may have peaked but freshet isn’t over

Forecast free of rain is good news as river should remain high but not get higher

Big brew tanks headed for Chilliwack will look like beer cans

Snap a #beertanks selfie if you spot one of the massive tanks en route to Chilliwack

VIDEO: Chilliwack RCMP descend on home where camper fire happened Sunday

Three days after blaze in driveway, heavy police presence and at least one arrested

Fraser Valley Cantabile Choir wins first in ‘Sing Me a Song’ contests under 18 category

The group will be visited by B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor, who will present them with their award

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

Two-year-old found unresponsive in pool

Mission RCMP located toddler after she went missing from a local daycare

Toronto opening 800 emergency spaces to deal with influx of refugee claimants

Beginning Thursday, Toronto will temporarily house refugee claimants and new arrivals in 400 beds in the city’s east end.

Breaking: Trump cancels summit with North Korea

Trump cancels June 12 summit with North Korea’s Kim, citing ‘tremendous anger and open hostility’ in recent statement

Rivers rising: Floods in B.C., New Brunswick a warning of what’s to come

In B.C., thousands of residents are returning to homes this week marked with red or yellow signs indicating a health inspection is necessary

North Korea demolishes nuke test site with series of blasts

North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists.

Wildfire sparks near perimeter of devastating 2017 Elephant Hill fire

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Surrey RCMP issue warning after third sexual assault since Sunday

It is the third sexual assault reported this week in Surrey

Most Read