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

Pedestrian struck on Hillside Avenue

Traffic impacted between Douglas and Blanshard streets

‘Just being stupid’: Premier slams abusive customers at Langford restaurant

Restaurant said rude customers reduced its hosts to tears

Sooke Arts Council opens first gallery

Classes available at new location

Saanich orders new liquor licence for Cedar Hill Recreation Centre

Consolidated licence cuts maximum patrons from 570 to 174

47 British Columbians test positive for COVID-19

That brings the total number of confirmed active cased as of Thursday (Aug. 6) to 371 people

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Vancouver Island Regional Library stepping up reading services

Rick Stiebel | Sooke News Mirror Library lovers in Sooke can once… Continue reading

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Tent Island closed due to neglect and abuse from campers

Illegal campfires common on Penelakut Tribe reserve land

Most Read