Advertisement
Canada

B.C. premier announces millions for emergency funding program

The provincial government is putting more resources into emergency preparedness in B.C.

Premier John Horgan was in Kelowna on Friday morning, where he announced an additional $31 million to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) for local governments and First Nations.

According to the premier, this brings the total program funding to $69.5 million.

READ MORE: Wildfire preparedness workshop aims to inspire Okanagan farmers to get ready

The money will be used to prepare for disasters like floods and wildfires.

“As you all know, the past two years have been the worst in B.C.’s history, and the challenges of a new fire season are upon us,” Horgan said.

Horgan made the announcement at Kelowna’s main fire hall on Enterprise Way.

Story continues below advertisement

The province is also investing an additional $19 million for 40 wildfire risk reduction projects, delivered through the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.

WATCH BELOW (Aired May 22, 2019): Community of 108 Mile prepares for future wildfires

Community of 108 Mile prepares for future wildfires
Community of 108 Mile prepares for future wildfires

Thirty-six of the 40 approved projects are for fuel management projects that will reduce wildfire risk within two kilometres of a community.

“We want to make sure that communities have the resources they need so they can take the steps that they need to protect their citizens, to protect property and to protect, ultimately, the spectacular place that people in the Okanagan call home,” he said.

The money will be administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) and distributed to communities in need.

WATCH BELOW: Wildfire protection efforts underway in High Level

Wildfire protection efforts underway in High Level
Wildfire protection efforts underway in High Level

It will be used for preventative and mitigaton work, such as forest-fuel clean up and shoring up creeks and streams.

The money will also go towards preparedness projects.

“We have, as we all know, an elaborate infrastructure of forest service roads, which are not always in the optimum condition to help with evacuations,” said Horgan.

Story continues below advertisement

“So that work can be done between seasons to make sure we are prepared.”

Tweet This

WATCH BELOW (Aired May 23, 2019): Controlled burns used to keep High Level wildfire at bay

Controlled burns used to keep High Level wildfire at bay
Controlled burns used to keep High Level wildfire at bay

Municipalities will have to apply for the funding, something Kelowna’s city manager expects to do.

“I think when the program sort of gets finalized, and we get the details around it, I would expect we would be at the table applying for funding either as a city or region,” city manager Doug Gilchrist said.

“I think we are thinking more regionally now more than I think we ever have in the past as local governments. And whether it is on a regional basis or local basis, I’d expect we’d apply for some of the funding.”

WATCH BELOW (Aired May 22, 2019): Efforts to protect homes, buildings from fire in High Level

Efforts to protect homes, buildings from fire in High Level
Efforts to protect homes, buildings from fire in High Level

Gilchrist hopes the emergency preparedness funding will be ongoing.

“There can always be more and it is a big-ticket item that has to continue to get program funding and not one time funding,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“Hopefully this is a tipping of his hat that maybe there will be some more of that into the future if this government continues on. But it’s definitely necessary as climate change continues to affect all of us, and funding and programming need to expand to adapt to it.”

Kelowna’s fire chief welcomed the additional funds saying it will help the city and fire department continue with mitigation projects.

READ MORE: Province releases emergency preparedness tips, as Fort McMurray marks 2 years since wildfire

“It is good to see investment into opportunities for us to further work on prevention and mitigation strategies,” Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting told Global News.

“You know over the last couple of years, certainly through flooding and historically in this region through wildfires, we have seen the damage it causes and if we can get ahead of that and do some mitigation work.

“Any investment we can get into that is much appreciated.”

Tweet This

The CEPF funding includes $30 million to help eligible applicants in local government and First Nations communities build resiliency through structural flood mitigation projects, flood risk assessments, mapping and mitigation planning.

In addition to flood-specific funding, there is also support for resiliency in the face of all emergencies, including funds for evacuation route planning, emergency operations centre and emergency support services training and equipment.

Story continues below advertisement
Global News Redesign Global News Redesign
A fresh new look for Global News is here, tell us what you think
Take a Survey

Sponsored Stories