Small businesses affected by B.C. wildfires get emergency grants

FILE PHOTO - Smoke from wildfires fills the air and burned trees are seen in this aerial view from a Canadian Forces Chinook helicopter near Williams Lake, B.C., on Monday, July 31, 2017.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - Small businesses affected by devastating wildfires in British Columbia will be getting some financial relief from the provincial government.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says small businesses, First Nations whose livelihoods are based on cultural practices and not-for-profit organizations that have been under evacuation orders or alerts are eligible for a $1,500 emergency grant.

The funding also applies to small businesses operating in areas affected by closures along Highways 20, 97, 26 and the eastern Cariboo Regional District, an area hard hit by fires.

The money will be distributed by the Canadian Red Cross, which received $100 million from the province when a state of emergency was declared in early July.

Donaldson says small businesses are the lifeblood of rural communities and the government will be provide the necessary programs to support their recovery.

Executive director Claudia Blair of the Williams Lake Visitor Centre says businesses have already lost thousands of dollars after the area was evacuated last month, and the recent closure of the backcountry is expected to create more economic hardship.

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