The provincial government is boosting funding and scrapping cost-sharing requirements for local governments and First Nations to help reduce wildfire risks around their communities.
The province announced the new Community Resiliency Investment Program that will allow communities to apply for funding to cover up to 100 per cent of their wildfire risk reduction projects.
“Wildfires don’t recognize the difference between municipal, on-reserve or provincial Crown land, and neither should the programs designed to address those fires,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“The new Community Resiliency Investment Program was designed from the ground up to address long-standing concerns with the way we were dealing with wildfire risks throughout the province.”
The province is providing $50 million in funding over the next three years. The money was originally announced in the 2018 budget and up to $10 million will be available in the 2018-19 fiscal year, with $20 million available in each of the following two fiscal years.
For the first time provincial rules will consider fire prevention activities on provincial Crown land and private land, in addition to local government and reserve land.
The 2018 wildfire season was the most destructive in the province’s history, with more than 13,000 square kilometers burned. This year was also the second year in the where the B.C. government declared a provincial state of emergency.
The government has expanded the types of activities that are now eligible for funding to more of those covered by the FireSmart program’s seven disciplines.
There will be two funding streams: First Nations and local governments can apply for funding of up to $100,000 for activities that will help reduce wildfire risks and the high value assets and critical infrastructure protection program is currently being developed.
“The First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. is proud to have collaborated on this project and assisted in developing a program that will serve to help reduce the risk of wildfire in and around Indigenous communities,” said Brent Langlois, executive director of the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. “Together we can help to mitigate wildfire risk and protect communities in British Columbia.”
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FireSmart is the Canadian standard recognized by all provinces and territories for reducing wildfire risks. The types of fire prevention work eligible for funding under the new rules will include education, vegetation management, legislation and planning, development considerations, inter-agency co-operation, emergency planning and cross-training.