Eby ‘profoundly worried’ about upcoming fire season, as billions earmarked for contingency

By The Canadian Press

The Premier of British Columbia says he is “profoundly worried” about the upcoming wildfire season, saying it is one of the major reasons why the province has set aside $10.6 billion in contingency funds over the next three years.

David Eby says parts of British Columbia, such as the Peace River, East Kootenay, and Upper Fraser regions, remain severely dry and about 100 wildfires are still burning this winter from last year’s record-breaking season.

He says the province is leasing aircraft and expanding firefighting infrastructure to allow for crews to conduct operations such as aerial attack missions at night, enhancing B.C.’s capacity to fight wildfires around the clock.

Before the B.C. budget was tabled on Thursday afternoon, one fire chief stressed the need for more money to help fight wildfires.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund was on the frontlines last August when one of the province’s biggest wildfires, and the largest in West Kelowna history, broke out. He said they were grateful and encouraged by the funding and help that had already been promised, but simply put, they need more.

“We can use far more than what we’re allotted today, particularly in the area of prevention and mitigation,” explained Brolund. “In my community alone, even after the fire, we have millions and millions of dollars in wildfire prevention and mitigation initiatives that we could be doing that we just don’t have funding more.”

Brolund says advocacy for more money is something that a lot of communities can get behind, adding fighting wildfires is no longer just a summer problem, it’s a year-round problem.

He’s not providing an exact dollar amount for how much money they need, but explains the need is urgent.

With files from Sonia Aslam.

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