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.

Just Posted

Missing boy was dehydrated but in good health

The boy who went missing near Mackenzie was found to be somewhat… Continue reading

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Parking lot rework effort begins

Work is well underway on the Downtown Parking Lot Redevelopment Plan, which… Continue reading

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read