March 22, 2018 3:55 pm

3 years in jail, up to $100K in fines part of new effort to decrease wildfire risk in B.C.

A fire ban was issued Sunday in parts of southern Alberta.

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Following last year’s devastating wildfire season, the provincial government has announced a hike in some of the penalties that help reduce wildfire risks.

Effective immediately, failure to comply with restricted area requirements, an order restricting an activity or use, and an order to leave a specified area will result in a fine of $1,150 instead of $767.

READ MORE: B.C. year in review 2017: wildfires devastate the province like never before

In addition to that, a “spark arrestor” – which is a small screen installed in an exhaust system to stop sparks from exiting the tailpipe – is now required for all off-road vehicles. Failure to have one could result in a fine of $460 or an administrative penalty of up to $10,000.

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However, if the off-road vehicle starts a fire, the fines go up significantly.

“The operator could receive a violation ticket fine of $575, an administrative monetary penalty of up to $10,000, or a court fine up to $1,000,000 and/or up to three years in jail. The person responsible could also be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs,” read a release from government.

READ MORE: BC NDP announces review following devastating 2017 wildfire and flooding seasons

If a wildfire is also started by a downed power line, or any other cause related to utility transmissions operations, there will be an administrative penalty of up to $100,000.

“These changes reflect the tougher stand that our government is taking to eliminate unnecessary wildfire risks, encourage compliance, protect communities from harm and help keep British Columbians safe,” Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson said in a release.

READ MORE: 2017 BC wildfire season ‘the new normal’: province urged to act

The destructive 2017 fires displaced thousands of British Columbians and burned more than 1.2 million hectares.

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