Flames arising from the Lake Country’s Nighthawk wildfire in 2017. (Capital News file photo)

Okanagan hopes $111M in B.C. wildfire cash will extinguish fires this summer

Unknown yet how much of funding targeted for the Okanagan

Okanagan officials are expected to welcome a provincial government funding commitment of $111 million over the next three years to support wildfire mitigation and prevention efforts.

Finance Minister Carole James revealed that spending priority in her 2019-20 budget presentation Tuesday in the Victoria.

Bruce Smith, spokesman for the Regional District of Central Okanagan, said fuel modification efforts have been carried out by valley civic governments and the regional district over the past decade.

“Most of that has been based on government grants combined with local government commitments as well,” Smith said.

He noted fuel modification work has been done in regional parks and rural neighbourhoods that interface with forested areas.

“We’ve done fire suppression projects in Rose Valley, Kalamoir Park, Mission Creek Park and even our new park in Black Mountain that hasn’t even officially opened yet,” Smith said.

“We know it helps reduce the impact of any fire that might occur, especially for us in our regional parks.”

This funding will be in combination with the $60 million announced last year under the Community Resiliency Investment to also reduce wildfire risk.

Sonja Zoeller, communication manager for the ministry of finance, indicated the new fire suppression money will be targeted at direct fire control, communication and community engagement during wildfire season.

How much of that $111 million will end up in the Okanagan region is yet to be determined, Zoeller says, as those decisions will unfold over the next few months.

READ MORE: Lake Country to pursue wildfire mitigation grant

READ MORE: Brush fire in West Kelowna is fuel mitigation work

READ MORE: Collaborating with First Nations on wildfire mitigation

READ MORE: More planned forest fires needed

As well, a further $13 million has been budgeted to address forest restoration in areas damaged by disease and wildfires.

Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson said last year fire suppression funding is a reflection of the current forest fire realities facing the province, of the need to spend more money on preventative measures because of the rising cost to combat forest fires.

The provincial government has allotted $64 million each of the last two budget years to fight forest fires, and the actual costs in both years was more than 10 times what was allocated.

“The aggressive nature and the large nature is something that’s been predicted and is now here, so what we have to do is bolster our preventative and mitigative measures,” said Donaldson.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Warriors introduce new leadership core, look for bounce back after Friday loss

West Kelowna’s three-game winning streak ended Friday with a 6-3 loss

‘It’s still early’: Flu rates down so far this year at Interior Health

At Kelowna General Hosptial, there have been about 50 confirmed cases

Undermanned Rockets come close in 1st game of road-trip with 3-2 loss to Silvertips

Kelowna continues the three-game stretch Saturday night in Portland

Kelowna’s last video store, Leo’s Video, to remain open despite failed sale

Kelowna’s last video rental store will remain open and under its namesake’s ownership

Two-vehicle collision slows traffic on Highway 97

Harvey is down to two lanes heading east past Dilworth is closed while crews clean up

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

B.C. town spends $14.14 per resident for snow removal in one month

Costs of snow removal to the Town of Princeton skyrocketed in December.… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Most Read