A fire-damaged home at Boston Flats near Ashcroft during peak wildfire season, July 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Federal help for B.C. wildfire recovery on way

Premier John Horgan says $100 million helps businesses rebuild

Premier John Horgan has welcomed word of $100 million in additional funds to help B.C.’s wildfire recovery effort, after discussing the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

Horgan said Wednesday the approval for federal wildfire aid was rapidly received after he bluntly told Trudeau in a meeting last week to “bring some cash” to deal with B.C.’s largest-ever forest fire season this summer.

“I raised it with the Prime Minister in the morning and a letter came in the afternoon saying the money was available,” Horgan told reporters at the B.C. legislature Wednesday.

“This is the worst fire season we’ve had in recent memory and we need to make sure we have all the resources at our disposal to help people in the affected communities,” Horgan said. “It’s small business that were depending on revenues from July and August to get through the cold winter. It’s tourism operators who have now had their tenure areas eliminated completely.”

B.C. already has committed additional money for reforestation and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says salvage logging permits are being expedited to allow sawmills to harvest fire-damaged timber, while fence replacement and other assistance for ranchers in the B.C. Interior began as soon as burned areas were accessible.

Business and tourism recovery is a longer project, Horgan said.

“These are going to be long-term solutions,” Horgan said. “To have a federal partner as we build a recovery plan to make sure that everyone who’s affected has a fair shake, I think is very welcome news.”

more to come…

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