Premier John Horgan announces former Indigenous relations minister George Abbott and Skawahlook First Nation Hereditary Chief Maureen Chapman to lead review of the 2017 flood and forest fire season. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. to review 2017 flooding, wildfire seasons

Emergency Management B.C. needs better response, Premier John Horgan says

  • Dec. 4, 2017 10:30 a.m.

Delays in processing claims to B.C.’s disaster recovery programs will be part of a review of the 2017 spring floods and summer forest fires led by a former B.C. cabinet minister and a B.C. Indigenous chief.

Premier John Horgan made the announcement Monday in Victoria, appointing former BC Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott and Maureen Chapman, hereditary chief of the Skawahlook First Nation in the Fraser Valley, to their new roles.

Interior MLAs have criticized the provincial response to damage claims since the fires were brought under control, citing cases where businesses have waited weeks for payment after staying open to provide goods and services to the relief effort.

Horgan acknowledged the delays in what he called “19th Century systems” for dealing with emergencies, and said updating those systems will be a key task for the review.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said B.C.’s emergency systems have worked well, but the “sheer scale” of the spring floods and then forest fires overwhelmed the provincial government this year.

A record cold winter and large snowpack gave way quickly to a hot summer, with flooding and damage to roads and communities around the province this spring. Highway 97 north to Dawson Creek was heavily damaged by floods, and the Okanagan Valley struggled with high water for weeks.

The fire season devastated the Cariboo and southern Interior, forcing evacuations at 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and other communities as B.C. Wildfire Service brought in assistance from across Canada and other countries to help.

RELATED: B.C. wildfires used to be much more frequent

“What B.C. went through this past year was unprecedented with respect to wildfires and flooding,” Abbott said. “Given the scale of these events and the enormous effort it took to deal with them, this review is an opportunity to take a closer look at what took place and how the government could enhance its response strategies.”

The review will look at all aspects of the province’s response to the floods and wildfires, and is in addition to the reviews being conducted at the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management B.C. A report, with recommendations, is due April 30.

Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes during the worst wildfire season in B.C. history in terms of area burned. A province-wide state of emergency was in effect for 10 weeks.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds fill Chilliwack streets for Black Lives Matter march

‘Canada has a problem too,’ reads at least one protester’s sign

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

$25 million Fraser Valley highway project 18 months behind schedule

Ministry says information security protocols have ‘evolved’ since construction on project wrapped up

Chilliwack RCMP heard gunfire en route to suspicous activity

Chilliwack man, 42, sent to hospital after shooting, RCMP have confirmed

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Most Read