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B.C. to provide nearly $500,000 to help 14 communities develop emergency evacuation routes

Number 5 Road in the evacuated Sumas Prairie region of Abbotsford on Nov. 18, 2021. Abbotsford police

Fourteen B.C. First Nations and municipalities will receive provincial funding to develop emergency evacuation routes in the event of a natural disaster.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said on Monday B.C. has experienced multiple natural disasters, particularly the heat dome last June in addition to mudslides, flooding and wildfires.

“This funding will go a long way to support First Nations and local governments to help ensure people’s safety during emergencies or disasters,” Farnworth said.

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The provincial government is expected to provide $485,000 to rural or remote communities to plan new evacuation routes or upgrade existing routes. Nearly half of the 14 communities are Indigenous.

“Given the increased frequency, intensity and duration of disasters caused by climate change it’s clear that we need to support essential work that communities are doing,” said Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness.

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Heather Zenner, protective services manager for the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, said she’s pleased that her district is one of the grant recipients.

“The regional nature of this opportunity allows emergency planning to be done over several jurisdictional boundaries, allowing for all citizens to be incorporated and evacuation planning to consider many remote communities and neighbourhoods on the west coast,” Zenner said.

Last month, the province allotted $110 million in its budget to help municipalities and First Nations prepare for future climate-related emergencies and natural disasters.

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