Here's what B.C. is doing to prevent wildfires this year
File photo of a blaze near Okanagan Falls and Oliver, B.C.
VANCOUVER -- In an effort to help communities across the province prepare for wildfires, the B.C. government is giving nearly $9 million in grants to local governments and First Nations.
While 2019 was the first summer that didn't have a campfire ban in B.C.'s coastal fire centre since 2012, previous years' wildfire seasons have been treacherous for parts of the province. In 2018, for example, there were 2,117 fires across B.C. and more than 1.3 million hectares burned.
The provincial funding, announced Monday, will help some of the communities that tend to face the highest wildfire risk.
"The people who call these communities home know all too well the dangers from wildfires," said Ravi Kahlon, parliamentary secretary for forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, in a news release.
"Our government is committed to supporting local governments and First Nations because it's their on-the-ground efforts and local knowledge that are crucial to protecting the economic, recreational and environmental lifeblood of their communities."
One of those communities is Penticton, and the Penticton Indian Band is set to use $150,000 to reduce buildup of flammable material like wood debris, branches and undergrowth from high risk areas.
"Caring for our lands, including the health of our forests, is an inherent right and responsibility we as Syilx Okanagan People take seriously and are working with many levels of government ministries through agreements like this," said Chief Chad Eneas of the Penticton Indian Band.
"Fuel management supports us to protect the cultural and heritage value of our forests, as well as ensure they can contribute to a sustainable economy for many generations."
As well, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen got $140,000 from the province to update its official community plan.
"Reducing wildfire risks and increasing our community's resiliency to wildfire impacts are ongoing challenges. This funding will help improve and expand our efforts to protect residents," said Karla Kozakevich, chair, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
In total, 89 wildfire mitigation projects received funding last month from the province through its community resiliency investment program.