Flooding in Grand Forks, May 2018. (Kathleen Saylors/Grand Forks Gazette)

Communities seek reforms to B.C. wildfire, flood response

‘Stay and defend’ homeowners put risk on local government

People who stay and defend their properties and livestock in defiance of an evacuation order should have that right recognized, delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention voted Thursday.

Clint Lambert, area director of the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District, received unanimous support for his call to change B.C. legislation to recognize the choice to defend their homes and livelihood. He was one of the property owners who refused to leave their homes in his rural district around Francois and Ootsa Lake during the 2017 wildfire season.

“They ordered everyone evacuated, and 200 people in my community stayed to protect their homes and livestock and livelihoods,” Lambert said. “The regional district was put in a tight spot. They did cut off fuel and food and supplies for about four or five days, and then they realized that we weren’t going to come out so then they decided they had to help.

“Because of that, we need legislation that takes the liability away from the regional district and puts it on the property owner, because you cannot be gone from your livestock for eight to nine weeks.”

Lambert’s resolution was one of a series coming out of record fire seasons in 2017 and 2018, as well as the flooding that struck Grand Forks in 2018.

RELATED: B.C. residents defy evacuation orders in 2018 wildfires

RELATED: Grand Forks properties to be bought at ‘post-flood value’

Delegates also endorsed Grand Forks Coun. Christine Thompson’s resolutions to make disaster financial assistance easier for small businesses to apply for, and to review insurance rules for communities after a fire or flood.

“This relates to the small business community, who in the face of a disaster had to provide audited financial statements and other information regarding their eligibility to receive funding,” Thompson said. “Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities, and without them we wouldn’t have communities.”

Delegates also supported Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond’s call for additional staffing for Emergency Management B.C.

“In 2017, over 28,000 people in our regional district were evacuated from their homes, and they went all over the province, to Prince George, Kelowna, they went to Vancouver Island, Clearwater, they went to Abbotsford, they went to Chilliwack,” Richmond said.

“The challenges that we had with that type of level three emergency in the province was a lack of volunteers, and a lack of consistency of information that was received at the various evacuation centres.

“We’re asking the province to take a much larger role in the management to ensure that everyone gets the same information, because when people came home, some received different services than others. That’s not the fault of the volunteers, it’s the fault of poor communication in a time of crisis.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

MISSING: High-risk woman last seen on May 25

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating Jennifer Daughinee-Mendelson

More than 1,500 people expected at Victoria peace rally for Black lives

‘To speak up, all you need is a voice and the will to be heard’

Black bear sighting reported on UVic campus

University urging residents in the area to be careful

National Doughnut Day pays tribute to those on frontlines of First World War

The Salvation Army will be handing out doughnuts to community partners on Friday

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Most Read