The B.C. government says it has addressed all but nine recommendations made in an external report that looked into how the province could have been better prepared after the devastating 2017 wildfire and flood season.
Ninety-nine of the 108 recommendations made in the report have been acted on, Forest Minister Doug Donaldson said in the province’s second progress update on its action plan for responding to natural disasters Thursday.
Of the remaining nine, four require further analysis and discussion, the update said, and five are being addressed using alternative approaches.
In 2017, 1.2 million hectares of forest burned, displacing more than 65,000 residents during the longest state of emergency in B.C.’s history. The annual total cost of wildfire and flood response was close to $650 million.
“We were all aware of the risk of catastrophic wildfires leading up to 2017, but at that time, not enough work was done to prepare people and communities,” Donaldson said.
In December that year, the province launched an independent review of its response, to be led by George Abbott, a former Liberal cabinet minister, and Maureen Chapman, hereditary chief of Skawahlook First Nation in the Fraser Valley.
The report, released last year, made it clear that the province needed to improve how it prevents, prepares for, responds to and recovers from wildfires and floods, George Abbott said in the news release.
“Chief Maureen Chapman and I spent months travelling around the province last year in the wake of the 2017 wildfire and freshet seasons,” Abbott said in a statement.
“We listened very closely to the concerns of many individuals and communities who were directly affected by those catastrophic events.”
The province said next steps include new emergency management legislation and a climate preparedness strategy.