Premier John Horgan announces former Indigenous relations minister George Abbott and Skawahlook First Nation Hereditary Chief Maureen Chapman to lead review of the 2017 flood and forest fire season. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. to review 2017 flooding, wildfire seasons

Emergency Management B.C. needs better response, Premier John Horgan says

  • Dec. 4, 2017 10:30 a.m.

Delays in processing claims to B.C.’s disaster recovery programs will be part of a review of the 2017 spring floods and summer forest fires led by a former B.C. cabinet minister and a B.C. Indigenous chief.

Premier John Horgan made the announcement Monday in Victoria, appointing former BC Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott and Maureen Chapman, hereditary chief of the Skawahlook First Nation in the Fraser Valley, to their new roles.

Interior MLAs have criticized the provincial response to damage claims since the fires were brought under control, citing cases where businesses have waited weeks for payment after staying open to provide goods and services to the relief effort.

Horgan acknowledged the delays in what he called “19th Century systems” for dealing with emergencies, and said updating those systems will be a key task for the review.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said B.C.’s emergency systems have worked well, but the “sheer scale” of the spring floods and then forest fires overwhelmed the provincial government this year.

A record cold winter and large snowpack gave way quickly to a hot summer, with flooding and damage to roads and communities around the province this spring. Highway 97 north to Dawson Creek was heavily damaged by floods, and the Okanagan Valley struggled with high water for weeks.

The fire season devastated the Cariboo and southern Interior, forcing evacuations at 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and other communities as B.C. Wildfire Service brought in assistance from across Canada and other countries to help.

RELATED: B.C. wildfires used to be much more frequent

“What B.C. went through this past year was unprecedented with respect to wildfires and flooding,” Abbott said. “Given the scale of these events and the enormous effort it took to deal with them, this review is an opportunity to take a closer look at what took place and how the government could enhance its response strategies.”

The review will look at all aspects of the province’s response to the floods and wildfires, and is in addition to the reviews being conducted at the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management B.C. A report, with recommendations, is due April 30.

Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes during the worst wildfire season in B.C. history in terms of area burned. A province-wide state of emergency was in effect for 10 weeks.

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

Just Posted

Summer Stories Around Town program encourages outdoor reading in Elk Valley

With storywalks and clothesline stories in Fernie and Sparwood, everyone can get reading

School District 5 identifies funding needs in yearly budget report

The SD5 board presented three main projects that need increased funding in the coming years

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Student athletes recognized for outstanding seasons

Fernie Secondary School students got their awards in a drive by ceremony last week

The Elk Valley celebrates Canada Day

Creative socially distant Canada Day festivities were held in both Fernie and Sparwood this week

Horgan says B.C. restart making gains as more people come out of their homes

B.C. announced the easing of more restrictions on businesses, recreation and travel last month

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Amber Alert continues for missing Quebec girls, 6 and 11, and their father

Police issued the alert for Norah Carpentier, 11, and Romy Carpentier, 6, from Levis, Que.

Limit police access to lethal weapons in Indigenous communities: Justice Summit

Grassroots-organized National Indigenous Justice Summit was a free-to-attend two-day videoconference

Most Read