Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson

Action required for wildfire recovery

MLA Lorne Doerkson column

It has certainly not been an easy year for so many of us here in the Cariboo.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll, and many are dealing with the impacts of this summer’s devastating wildfire season. It was the third-worst year for wildfires this province has ever seen, with thousands of hectares of forest and rangeland destroyed, and while our region was fortunate to avoid any major losses of homes and businesses to the fires, we certainly did not emerge unscathed.

Like much of B.C., we are dependent on government to address the aftermath of the fires, but we have yet to see much meaningful action.

Our agriculture and the resource sectors were particularly hard hit, putting many people’s livelihoods at risk. For some ranchers, the fires meant the loss of livestock and the destruction of important productive land, leading to feeding shortages. Farmers are short hundreds of bales of hay needed to feed their animals this winter and left with land that will likely not be able to grow anything for at least a year or more.

Other ranchers, like the Cunningham family in the South Cariboo, are eager to get their cattle back on the range, but they can’t do so without the replacement of Crown fencing, which requires disaster financial assistance. This funding from the federal government must be secured by the province, which still hasn’t announced anything of the sort.

I was able to ask the Minister of Agriculture about this directly in Question Period at the Legislature a few weeks ago, but unfortunately, Minister Popham did not have much to offer in the way of reassurance. She told me that discussions about securing this funding are “conversations that will continue.”

This is simply not good enough.

Last week, I wrote to the Minister of Public Safety asking again about securing this needed funding, as well as looking for clarity on the numerous other issues that my BC Liberal colleagues and I have raised this fall. I can assure you that I will be following up with the minister about this letter when I am back in Victoria. It’s time for clear answers and effective solutions, neither of which we have received from the NDP.

People whose livelihoods hang in the balance, who are waiting for any kind of reassurance that help is on the way, need to know that government is doing more than just having conversations — they need real action, support and relief, but so far the NDP has failed to deliver.


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