Last week the government released its long-awaited independent review of flood and wildfire practices.
The report, Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in B.C., makes 108 recommendations, 14 of which are considered priorities or ‘strategic shifts’.
The government says 19 of the recommendations are already being implemented but does not specify which ones in particular.
In a press release, the minister explains that “…the majority of recommendations are longer term in nature, and may require legislative changes or involve other levels of government.
This is a polite way of almost dismissing the report entirely and distancing the government from any real changes discussed in the recommendations.
The minister says he will eventually respond by October 31, but this will be well after this season’s floods and wildfires.
To be fair, we can’t change our practices overnight. But we can focus on the most important ones first and then worry rest over the ‘long term.’
In my mind, the most important thing is that we take lessons learned from last year and make sure that we don’t repeat our mistakes.
People want to feel confident in the authorities and know that their lives and their property are safeguarded.
They also want to know that if they lose their house or their business, the government will step in with disaster relief immediately, and not six months or a year from now.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In 2017 alone, we spent $568 million fighting wildfires and $78 million on flooding. But the minister says he has only $50 million spread out over the next three years to spend on prevention and risk reduction.
The provincial government has lots of money through all of its tax increases, now is the time to show the political will to implement all the recommendations.