The Province has announced they will be allocating nearly $9 million to help 89 local governments, including multiple Vancouver Island communities, and First Nations throughout British Columbia be better prepared for wildfire risks.
The Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Doug Donaldson, announced the grants from the government on Monday.
“Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities are on the front lines of wildfire prevention, and we removed barriers so our Community Resiliency Investment program met their needs,” said Donaldson in a press release. “We fund up to 100% of local projects and projects that include Crown land because we know wildfires don’t distinguish between municipal, on-reserve and provincial Crown land.”
The 89 communities receiving grants will fall under the Community Resiliency Investment Program, a program developed back in September of 2018 to help with wildfire risks. Included on the recipient list are Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, Comox Valley Regional District, Capital Regional District, North Cowichan, Nanaimo, Port McNeil, and Saanich among others.
“The people who call these communities home know all too well the dangers from wildfires,” said Ravi Kahlon, . “Our government is committed to supporting local governments and First Nations because it’s their on-the-ground efforts and local knowledge that are crucial to protecting the economic, recreational and environmental lifeblood of their communities.”
The B.C. government has committed $60 million over the last year and a half to the Community Resiliency Investment program, which replaced the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative.
The number of Community Resiliency Investment program grants allocated province-wide to date is now 209, amounting to more than $18.6 million, according to the BC Government.
“The Community Resiliency Investment program helps increase community resiliency by funding activities that promote FireSmart education, planning and opportunities for partnerships through regional FireSmart committees,” a statement in the press release reads. “A key component of the program is that it lets communities apply for funding to cover up to 100% of a wildfire risk reduction project.”
Each community on Vancouver Island and throughout BC received varied amounts of funding that will go towards completing FireSmart initiatives, including priority fuel management activities on provincial Crown land and on private land. These initiatives are intended to make homes, businesses and community spaces better prepared to handle an emergency.
Eligible applicants facing a lower wildfire risk can apply for up to $25,000, while applicants facing a demonstrated higher wildfire risk can apply for up to $150,000.
With files to the BC Government.