Preparing for wildfires and building stronger, safer communities

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Premier John Horgan visited Kelowna May 24 to meet with local governments, First Nations and emergency responders and announce additional supports for wildfire risk reduction.

By Premier John Horgan,

After the last two years of unprecedented wildfires, many people in B.C. are heading into summer with a feeling of uncertainty. Will families be able to spend time outdoors hiking, camping and taking advantage of B.C.’s backyard? Or will more people face evacuations and threats to their homes and businesses?

We can’t predict how this wildfire season will unfold, but we can lay the necessary foundation to keep people and communities safe. Our government is doing everything in its power to support communities and prepare for what lies ahead.

In May, we gave a $36 million boost to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, so that local governments and First Nations can reduce their wildfire and flood risk and effectively respond to emergencies when they happen.

We’re also investing $19 million in 40 wildfire risk reduction projects delivered through the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. Of the 40 projects, 36 focus on fuel management that will directly reduce the potential impacts of wildfires on communities.

Through these programs and others aimed at addressing and reducing wildfire risk, we’re building resilient communities. We know there’s more to do to adapt to a changing climate.

I continue to meet with leaders from local governments and First Nations to hear about their unique challenges and talk about how we can better respond to wildfires and other climate caused weather disruptions. We are in this together.

Protecting our homes and our communities starts in the here and now, but we must also prepare for what lies ahead. Staying safe in the long-term means stepping up and taking action on climate.

People are worried, some even fearful about the effects of climate change, including increasing air pollution, more wildfires and floods, and extreme weather events. The greatest antidote to fear is action. We have the power to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. To get there, we have to make different choices.

Six months ago, working with our colleagues in the BC Green Party, we launched CleanBC, a climate action plan that puts B.C. on the path to a cleaner, better future. The plan maps our actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve our 40% emissions reduction target by the year 2030.

It’s an ambitious plan, and we are getting there by carefully and deliberately moving away from fossil fuels toward clean electricity and other renewable resources. We are making zero-emission vehicles and home heat pumps more affordable and available to British Columbians. And, we are becoming a destination for industry looking to meet the growing global demand for low-carbon products, services and pollution-reducing technologies.

As a province, we are leading the country in creating a sustainable, low-carbon economy. To succeed, each of us must play a part.

We can all make better choices. As we prepare for another challenging summer, let’s make sure we see the forest for the trees. While we focus on keeping people and communities safe now, let’s commit to taking action on making life better in B.C. for the future.

Each of us has a responsibility to rise to the challenge of climate change. The choice is ours to make. Our decisions will shape the future for the next generation. I invite you to join me as we take steps to keep our communities safer today, with bold climate action for a better tomorrow.