NDP critic says government needs bigger budget to combat wildfires

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

While 123 wildfires continue to burn across the province, Norm Macdonald — the NDP’s critic for forests and lands — says the summer’s dry conditions signals the government’s need to be better prepared for wildfire season.

“The high level of wildfires are higher than they used to be 20 years ago. We just need to prepare communities for wildfires. There’s a cost for that, but there are a number of options that can be looked at that are cost effective and I think that’s what government has to be doing in a more serious way.”

B.C. Forest minister Steve Thomson says a “fair amount” of fire fighting’s budget of $63-million dollars has already burned through.

Added Macdonald on the current budget: “It’s invariably a lower number than is needed. There’s no rationale for the number that the government uses, there’s no ten-year average or anything one would assume. In a big fire season, you’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Last year the government spent $122-million knocking down wildfires.

The record was set in 2009 when a total of $382-million dollars was spent in firefighting costs.

Macdonald adds that the creation of local programs would help fire officials and residents prepare for and prevent the possibility of wildfires.

Comments

  1. What Mr MacDonald is saying is utter nonsense. He should have to provide examples of where the alleged “under budgeting” has resulted in a shortage of resources needed to fight fires. If there are cases like this-then this is a huge problem. The government is not going to stop fighting fires because the budget has been used up-even someone like Mr. MacDonald would know that.

    The government should challenge him on this and then offer the solution. Thanks to the BCTF strike, the government has about $220 million in less spending than it budgeted for. So, to make the NDP happy they will take, say half of that, and build up a reserve in the fire fighting budget.

    • Right on. I’d like to know where he finds his information too. “The high levels of wildfires are higher than they were 20 years ago” is not only a goofy statement it means nothing without stats. From the info I’ve seen, on the same day he is making this mind numbing comment, fewer hectares than average have been lost. Had he talked about the high costs of fighting wildfires (wages, specialized equipment, etc), he might have a valid discussion point, but fussing on “budgeting on what the weather might bring” is useless.

  2. I doubt very much if the funds spent to fight wild fires (after they start-whether human or weather caused) are based on a budget. The fact is that whatever is necessary to protect life and property (by fighting wild fires) will be spent. End of story.

    But Macdonald, by stressing the need for local programs designed to mitigate wild-fire damage by actively removing and burning off accummulated fuel on the forest floor near communities, raises a valid point.

    It is very likely that Macdonald is being quoted out of context to solicit the typical responses posted (and succeeded).

    Many American states do that very thing-preventative programs. If BC had such a program, East Kelowna would not have suffered the loss of hundreds of homes in 2009. Those losses were preventable. Fighting wild fires that threaten a community is like closing the gate after the horse is out.

      • FN, were the stewards of the forest and fisheries long before white men came here to muck it up! Read your history they would burn huge areas for grass and thin out the trees they build boats and built large villages out of the forest product they harvested.You will not be saying a word when your face to face with a native with your smart mouth as they have claims of long ago. There were no treaties sign in BC,look like they can do what they want with the land and you have to ask permission for approval, to do anything! The more of your hatred and bad mouthing you might be paying an FN toll just to live in BC and just call it interest long overdue.

        • The inconvenient truth today is that the program to mitigate the harmful effects of wild fires does not exist. This kind of program, like siesmic upgrading which rate very low on spending priorities. With a limited budget and If fire suppression was badly needed in Nelson or a FN community, where do you think the money will be allocated?

          So the claim that it is all taxpayer money going to FN nations for fire suppression is over the top. Besides Ken 280 is speaking of FN fire suppression practices on ancestoral territory long before the white man took it away.

          According to your logic since taxpayers’ money is at stake in financially-crippling times, implicit is the notion that you are advocating an immediate end to putting wild fires.

          • So why is it that you will interpret an “N”DP comment that is so vague, protect and defend saying “this is what he means” while you never do that for the BC Liberals?

            And as I said, regardless of all solutions, it is taxpayer money.

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