As wildfires become more common in B.C. Canada, the government is taking steps to ensure enough money is allocated to the response teams who fight the fires.
The 2019 B.C. Budget was published this week and included a funding increase of nearly $37 million per year “in recognition of increased wildfire activity.”
Some feel that the budget increase is not enough like Andrew Weaver, the leader of the B.C. Green Party. Weaver believes a policy change is necessary in combatting the climate change that has been causing the uptick in wildfires.
In an interview with Global News, Weaver spoke about the need to improve the response to wildfires.
“I’m pleased to see there is some money in the base budget for responding to threats but we need to push on the policy side to retake a look at some of our forest management practices so we don’t create mono-cultured stands of forest all the same age which, when the age is ripe, can lead to catastrophic forest fires,” Weaver said.
Weaver suggested cutting back on the use of herbicides in forests used for timber and encouraging logging companies to clean up the debris from their operations by offering financial incentives.
Weaver is not the only citizen with concerns about the future of wildfires in B.C.
University of British Columbia, Okanagan economics professor Julien Picault spoke with Global News about his views on the budget increase. He doesn’t think the $37 million increase is enough, as past wildfires have cost more than what the new budget recommends.
“It’s basically the bare minimum that the government is allocating for wildfire response but it’s not enough if fires were as strong as they were in the past,” Picault said.
“The government cannot predict everything that will happen next year so the government needs to have ways to respond to any problem that could not be foreseen at the same.”
The 2019 Budget also includes a $13 million dollar over three year forest restoration plan and a sum of $60 million to go towards fuel management.
During 2018, the B.C. government went over their firefighting and other emergency services related to natural disasters budget by more than $850 million.
Perhaps this small increase in spending won’t help put out the financial fires related to forest blazes after all.
This story was first reported by Shelby Thom at GlobalNews.ca