VICTORIA — The Province of B.C. has released a series of steps it intends to take to improve its response to wildfires and floods following a report on the devastating impact natural disasters had in 2017.
The action plan stems from the Abbott/Chapman report which gave officials 108 recommendations. The province noted it also considered input from other recent reports.
The recommendations included working better with Indigenous and local communities to improve emergency preparedness and build local capacity and resources for disaster readiness, response and recovery.
This includes expanding FireSmart funding and resources under the new $50-million Community Resiliency Investment Program and supporting community-led emergency planning.
Part of the plan includes engaging with First Nations at regional partnership tables, supporting local and Indigenous communities in preparing community recovery plans, and building awareness of the mental-health impacts of wildfire and the resources available for British Columbians.
The province also plans to use technology to assess wildfire and flood impacts and start the development of a new provincial disaster recovery framework to adopt a more integrated, co-ordinated cross-ministry approach to recovery, while recognizing the role of First Nations partners and a variety of stakeholders.
Progress updates on the action plan will be released biannually over the next two years. The first update is scheduled to be issued April next year.
In 2017, 1.2 million hectares in B.C. burned, displacing more than 65,000 residents during the longest state of emergency in B.C.’s history. The total cost of wildfire and flood response in 2017 was close to $650 million.
This summer was even worse, with more than 1.3 million hectares destroyed. A provincial state of emergency was declared and the total estimated cost of 2018 wildfire and flood response is more than $400 million.