Katrine Conroy, BC Minister of Forests promised $359 million dollars and some policy changes to better prepare the BC Wildfire Service to combat wildfires.
The changes include a partnership with indigenous communities
BC Wildfire Service will be receiving $359 million dollars in new funding to help protect British Columbians from a repeat of the 2021 devastating wildfire season.
$145 million is earmarked to transform the BCWS into a year round operation. It will also shift from its current reactive model to a more proactive model
The BC wildfire service will focus on a Four Pillars approach.
Prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
$26 million of the $359 million is capital funding to upgrade BCWF facilities...
Minister Conroy promised to double local wildfire prevention funds. A $90 million will be administered through BC's Firesmart program.
Administered by BC union of municipalities in partnership with the first nations emergency services society, homeowners and communities will be able to access "tools and information" hopefully reducing fire risk on the ground
Minister Conroy acknowledged traditional knowledge how to "prevent and manage wildfires on their territories"
As part of the announced partnership with indigenous communities, BC wildfire will be expanding cultural and prescribed burning.
Meteorologist and lead weather predictor for BC Wildfire Service, Matt McDonald reported a slow start to this year's fire season. He said temperatures have been 2-3 degrees lower than average and most of the province has been wetter as well.
McDonald stressed there are some dry areas BCFS is keeping an eye on.
AS of the beginning of June 2022, there have been 137 wildfires, half the number that might be considered "normal".
So far the outlook is good, but, McDonald says it's not possible to predict farther than 2 weeks into the future. so wildfire activity may pick up near summer's end.
Minister Conroy also encouraged everyone to download the BC Wildfire service app. A number of updates are promised on June 7, 2022.
One of the updates will allow people to report fires using the BC Wildfire Service app, including the ability to upload pictures as well. Real-time and push notifications will also be available thru the app.
The Public can also call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from a cel phone
Thanks in part to a "heat dome" and a significant fuel load on the forest floor, 2021 was the third-worst recorded fire season.
From April 1, 2021 to March 28, 2022, 1,642 wildfires burned 869,279 hectares in B.C. Approximately 60 percent of wildfires in 2021 were natural-caused, 35 per cent were human-caused and the remaining 5 percent is undetermined.
A provincial state of emergency was declared on July 21, 2021 and stayed in effect for 56 days until Sept. 14, 2021.
The wildfires triggered the implementation of 181 evacuation orders and 304 evacuation alerts.
The total cost of wildfire suppression from April 1 to Sept. 30, 2021 was about $565 million.
Communities like Lytton and Monte Creek were almost completely lost. Dozens of homes throughout the fire area were also consumed.
Tragically two lives were lost in Lytton BC
The BC government and BC Wildfire Service were highly criticized
for their wildfire response in 2021, especially by those living in Monte Creek BC.