By: The Working Forest Staff
BC, Surrey Now Leader — The B.C. government says it has addressed all but nine recommendations made in an external report that looked into how the province could have been better prepared after the devastating wildfire and flood season of 2017.
According to a report by Surrey Now Leader, 99 of the 108 recommendations made in the Abbott-Chapman report have been acted on, Forest Minister Doug Donaldson said in the province’s second progress update on its action plan for responding to natural disasters Thursday.
Of the remaining nine recommendations, four require further analysis and discussion, the update reads, while alternative approaches are being used to address the other five.
“We were all aware of the risk of catastrophic wildfires leading up to 2017, but at that time, not enough work was done to prepare people and communities,” Donaldson said.
In 2017, 1.2 million hectares burned, displacing more than 65,000 residents during the longest state of emergency in B.C.’s history. The annual total cost of wildfire and flood response was close to $650 million.
In December that year, the B.C. government launched an independent review of the response to the 2017 wildfire and flooding seasons.
The report, led by George Abbott and Maureen Chapman and released in 2018, made it clear that the province needed to improve how to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from wildfires and floods.
“Chief Maureen Chapman and I spent months traveling around the province last year in the wake of the 2017 wildfire and freshet seasons,” Abbott said in a statement. “We listened very closely to the concerns of many individuals and communities who were directly affected by those catastrophic events.
“It’s encouraging to see the B.C. government’s prompt and thorough response to our report, and heartening to see how much work has been done to address our report’s recommendations.”
Looking ahead, the province said that the next steps include introducing new emergency management legislation, as well as a provincial climate preparedness strategy sometime next year.
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