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.