Bald Mountain fire forced closure of Highway 20 from Williams Lake to Bella Coola. (BC Wildfire Service)

Financial support offered to fire-affected businesses

$1,500 emergency grants also for aboriginal communities, non-profits

The B.C. government is offering emergency grants of $1,500 for eligible small businesses affected by wildfires in the B.C. Interior.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced Monday the grants will be administered through the Red Cross, which has also distributed $600 payments to individuals and families forced from their homes by fires. The grants will also be available to aboriginal communities and non-profits affected by fires and highway closures.

Businesses and organizations along Highway 20, evacuation areas on Highway 97 south of Prince George, Highway 26 to Barkerville and the eastern Cariboo Regional District communities of Horsefly and Likely.

The eligibility will be reviewed and adjusted as conditions change, but the government wants to get the program going as soon as possible, Donaldson said.

Applications are open today and online application forms are available here. Information on the program and links are also available at www.redcross.ca and the Red Cross has a small business phone helpline at 1-855-999-3345. Phone service is available Monday to Friday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Eligible organizations are those with 50 employers or fewer, have a income of less than $250,000 per year, have been in operation on or before July 7, 2017 and have resumed operations or are intending to restart as soon as possible.

“We know that hundreds of small businesses in rural B.C. have been adversely impacted by wildfire activity and this initial support is designed to give these businesses some assistance as they resume operations again,” said Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston.

Rain across some of the fire-affected regions helped slow down fires, but B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said they were showers and the effect is temporary.

“We’re likely going to see conditions rebound pretty quickly here,” Skrepnek said.

Dr. Bonnie Henry of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that the smoke that has hung over some communities for the past month has led to an increase in medical visits from people with chronic respiratory conditions, it is not expected to have long-term impacts.

“We still consider even the month to be relatively short term exposure,” Henry said. “We don’t expect long-term health effects as you would see with long-term exposure to air pollution like you would see in a city like Beijing.”

The latest estimate in area burned by the more than 1,000 wildfires reported since April 1 is 7,290 square kilometres, an area more than twice the size of Metro Vancouver. By that measure it is the second largest fire season on record for B.C., with more than 8,500 square kilometres burned in 1958.

Costs to date are $292 million, with 4,000 people working on the fire control effort.

Skrepnek said many seasonal firefighters and support workers are preparing to return to school or work after the Labour Day weekend, and plans are underway to replace them if necessary. Fire department dispatchers and military personnel are being recruited, he said.

Just Posted

Local leaders of all ages honoured at National Philanthropy Day event

Awards in six categories given to Victoria residents who are leaders in giving back

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Fill the railcar to help feed Victoria’s homeless

A community food drive for the Salvation Army

Get your pet on the jumbotron at this weekend’s Royals game

Victoria Royals host the Regina Pats Saturday night 7:05 p.m.

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

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

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

Most Read