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.

Just Posted

Telephone poles placed in centre of sidewalk angers West Kelowna watchdog

Audience Group calls placement of poles in new Boucherie Road upgrade project ‘idiocy’

Kelowna asking public to help update its Cultural Plan

Second survey this year to posted to gather public input about cultural programs and services

Three candidates drop out of Central Okanagan municipal election

Two running for Peachland/OK West trustee and OK East rural director candidate step aside

West Kelowna water warning downgraded

City lowers boil water notice for Lakeview water system to a water quality advisory

Ancestral remains uncovered at Fintry to be reburied

Remains found along Shorts Creek in Fintry Provincial Park during flood remediation measures

Your weekend weather update

Rain continues to move right across the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

Low risk associated with case of pneumococcal disease in the South Okanagan

No identified risk to the public from recent case of pneumococcal disease with associated meningitis

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read