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$1.3B more to address B.C. wildfires, climate change, clean tech

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Responding to and planning for a variety of natural disasters is prompting the provincial government to spend an additional $1.3 billion over the next three years.

Ongoing drought conditions, catastrophic flooding in the Fraser Valley in 2021, and devastating wildfire destruction in 2023 were cited as reasons for the funding boost.

Of the $405 million earmarked for climate emergencies, $154 million in operating and $21 million in capital funding will go toward wildfire fighting efforts. An additional $56 million will go toward aerial firefighting, $60 million for community-focused risk reduction and $38 million for year-round staffing.

Another $18 million will go toward boosting recovery programs and services for evacuees of natural disasters.

Infrastructure projects and programs to minimize flood risk and battle drought conditions will see $243 million over three years, including $83 million for farmers and ranchers through the Agriculture Water Infrastructure Program. The recently-announced $77 million to upgrade the Barrowtown pump station in Abbotsford is formalized in the budget, as is $50 for a pilot program for water meters in 21 communities aimed at better conserving water.

Much of the spending for responding to climate emergencies will happen this year with $174 million and declining to $59 million per year, while community infrastructure spending will go from just $10 million this year, to $155 million a year starting next year.

Clean technology investments

There’s only a modest increase to the “clean economy” in Budget 2024, though the existing funding has been maintained.

The province is continuing with $318 million for rebate programs for clean transportation, energy-efficient buildings, and to “support the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Over three years, $93 million in new funding will go toward $40 million in heat pump rebates for low- and middle-income households and $30 million in public infrastructure for electric charging stations, among other measures.

Another $27 million is earmarked province-wide to help school districts buy electric school buses.

Full coverage of B.C. Budget 2024

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