B.C. wildfire evacuees now eligible for $200 per night for accommodation

The province is expanding emergency services to evacuees ahead of what experts say will be a challenging wildfire season, going into drier and warmer months. Cecilia Hua reports.

People in B.C. who are forced to leave their homes due to wildfires will now be eligible to receive $200 per night for accommodation, the province shared Wednesday.

In an update on the province’s wildfire season, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma shared that after feedback from last year’s record-breaking wildfire season, evacuees will now be able to choose their own lodging and receive the money via Interac e-Transfer.

Ma noted, however, that evacuees can still be directly referred to lodging by emergency services if they would prefer.

“This new e-Transfer alternative option will allow people who are evacuated to make their own decisions on accommodation, whether that’s to stay with family, or friends, or find a hotel on their own, or stay at a campground. Additional support is also available by Interact e-Transfer for food, clothing, and incidentals,” Ma explained.

The province also announced that it is creating a “self-service pathway” during large-scale emergencies.

“During large-scale evacuations, evacuees can receive support without needing to go to a reception, at all,” she said.

“Instead, you can go online to ess.gov.bc.ca to create a profile and register for support. We encourage people who need support during an evacuation to create a profile on ess.gov.bc.ca today — creating a profile beforehand will save time and stress.”

“If you are evacuated, you’ll be able to quickly log in … to receive directions on how to access the various supports that are available.”

Despite wet start to June, B.C. wildfire season expected to be challenging

Meanwhile, the BC Wildfire Service’s latest seasonal outlook shows this year is forecasted to be a “potentially challenging 2024 season.”

“While some regions of the province, notably the coast, have received increased moisture over winter and spring, other areas are expected to remain at high risk for wildfire,” the service said Wednesday.

“The underlying severe drought conditions in northeastern B.C., in addition to holdover wildfires, means this region is particularly at risk of significant wildfires, as seen recently in the Fort Nelson area.”

“For parts of central and southern B.C., a cool, wet period through the middle of June has relieved some of the extreme conditions, but weather forecasts show hot and dry weather into the summer months. Dry pockets include the southwestern Interior and Chilcotin regions.”

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