B.C. gov’t not living up to community wildfire protection commitments

Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) says the current BC Liberal government isn't living up to its obligations to protect local communities from wildfire.

Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) says the current BC Liberal government isn’t living up to its obligations to protect local communities from wildfire.

The media release comes in the midst of the City of Revelstoke’s consultation period on a new wildfire protection plan. Read about that plan by clicking here.

Also, the City of Revelstoke has posted the plan online. Read it by clicking here.

For the record, here is the media release sent out by Macdonald’s staff on the morning of June 2. In their own words:

Government must fulfill its obligations to protect local communities from wildfire: Macdonald

VICTORIA – The BC Liberal government has failed in its responsibility to complete the necessary work to protect local communities from wildfire, says Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

In Question Period yesterday, Macdonald raised his concerns with the Minister of Forests, Mines and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

“With the recent events in Slave Lake, Alberta, our minds are very much on the dangers of wildfire to many of our communities,” said Macdonald. “Again we see just how much damage can be done when wildfire sweeps through a community.”

In recent memory, the most devastating interface fire was in Kelowna in the summer of 2003, an event that caused the government to commission the Filmon Report which contained a list of recommendations to protect communities in future fire seasons.

The government asked Gary Filmon, former Manitoba Premier and author of the report, to work quickly so that the bulk of the recommendations in the report could be actioned before the onset of the next fire season. But seven years after the release of the report, only two per cent of the interface area identified for fuel management has been treated.

“Government has a responsibility to protect communities at risk from wildfire. Treatment that has been done to date has not even begun to provide real protection for homeowners,” continued Macdonald. “The fire season in British Columbia is getting underway, and communities are still being left vulnerable because of this government’s inaction.”

“All the communities that I represent are surrounded by crown lands that are at risk for wildfire so this is an issue that is very close to home. Communities such as Kimberley and Revelstoke have worked hard to address their portion of responsibility to address fuel management, but they can’t make real progress without this government doing its part.

“It is time for this government to commit to a new strategy and new sense of urgency to deal with fuel management in the interface forest.”