More provincial funding for local governments, First Nations to reduce wildfire risk - InfoNews

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More provincial funding for local governments, First Nations to reduce wildfire risk

September 11, 2018 - 10:03 AM

Local governments and First Nations will be receiving more money over the next three years to help reduce wildfire risks around their communities.

The provincial government's new community resiliency investment program will provide up to $50 million over three fiscal years.

"Wildfires don't recognize the difference between municipal, on-reserve or provincial Crown land, and neither should the programs designed to address those fires," said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in a news release. "The new Community Resiliency Investment Program was designed from the ground up to address long-standing concerns with the way we were dealing with wildfire risks throughout the province."

The release states the new program takes a holistic approach to wildfire risk reduction and fuel management treatments, and will consider fire prevention activities on provincial Crown land and private land, along with local government and reserve land.

"The First Nations' Emergency Services Society of B.C. is proud to have collaborated on this project and assisted in developing a program that will serve to help reduce the risk of wildfire in and around Indigenous communities," Brent Langlois, executive director of the First Nations' Emergency Services Society of B.C. says in the release. "Together we can help to mitigate wildfire risk and protect communities in British Columbia."

The province states in the release that the program allows communities to apply for funding to cover up to 100 per cent of their wildfire risk reduction projects, as opposed to the previous cost-sharing requirements. The types of activities eligible for funding have also been expanded to include more activities covered by the FireSmart program.

Up to $10-million will be available in the 2018-19 fiscal year, with $20-million available in each of the two following fiscal years.

First Nations and local governments can apply for funding of up to $100,000 for activities that will help reduce wildfire risks through the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports.

The first application intake for the program opened yesterday, Sept. 10, and will close on Dec. 7 of this year. Applications will be evaluated by the B.C. FireSmart Committee and project funding will be administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Applications for community resiliency investment program funding can be submitted through the Union of B.C. Municipalities website.

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