B.C. premier says climate change is sparking need for national forest fire plan

Climate change is leading to more wildfires and the country needs a national forest firefighting strategy, says B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

OTTAWA — Climate change is leading to more wildfires and the country needs a national forest firefighting strategy, says B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

While the country has been transfixed by the raging fires around Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, British Columbia’s interior is experiencing similar fire conditions this spring that have received far less attention.

“The federal government has to help us to come together and come up with a national forest fire-fighting strategy,” Clark said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We’ve got a lot of experience with this in British Columbia.”

The labour-intensive job of clearing flammable debris on the forest floor is just one aspect of controlling wildfires, she said, as is pooling national fire-fighting resources among provinces to attack the country’s hot spots.

“That has begun,” said Clark, adding more needs to be done “especially in terms of predictive work on where the fires will likely be.”

About 80 wildfires are currently burning in B.C., many of them east of the Rocky Mountains and essentially part of the same boreal forest conditions that have consumed hundreds of thousands of hectares around Fort McMurray, forced the evacuation of more than 80,000 people and disrupted about a million barrels a day of oilsands production.

Because of the oilsands link, talk of climate change as a contributing factor in the Alberta wildfires has proven to be politically toxic — even though scientists have been predicting and tracking increased fire losses due to global warming for more than two decades.

Clark said dry forests and longer fire seasons mean the problem of fire damage is only going to get worse. This year’s B.C. fire season was the earliest on record, she said.

“I make no secret, I tell people every day, one of the reasons we have so many terrible fires annually now — and almost every year is worse than the last — is because our climate is drying and our climate is drying because of climate change,” said the B.C. premier.

“It’s urgent that we fight climate change and do everything we can to beat it, because this isn’t going to get better. Fires are going to get worse and it’s happening all over North America.”

British Columbia, said Clark, is “girding for what’s going to come next.”

The B.C. government has not yet needed to call for federal military assistance to fight the fires this year, as happened in Fort McMurray, but Clark said it continues to monitor the situation closely.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Up to 60,000 Alberta beehives could perish

“A perfect storm” of obstacles is threatening thousands of Alberta beehives. “It’s… Continue reading

57 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Friday

Central zone remains at three active cases

Piece of Red Deer history up for sale

Willson House was built in 1911 and has been completely restored

Frontline rural police will benefit from new support positions say municipal representatives

Province says of 43 new RCMP officers on the job, 18 will provide support and specialized services

China finds energy expertise in central Alberta

Red Deer County companies Icon Energy Services and C-Sense Consulting find success in China

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Protesters return to St. Louis area where couple drew guns

Protesters return to St. Louis area where couple drew guns

Heavy rain floods southern Japan, leaving over dozen missing

Heavy rain floods southern Japan, leaving over dozen missing

At Rushmore, Trump says protesters seek to ‘defame’ heroes

At Rushmore, Trump says protesters seek to ‘defame’ heroes

First Nations coalition rejects recommendation to lift Sen. Beyak’s suspension

First Nations coalition rejects recommendation to lift Sen. Beyak’s suspension

Canada restricts dealings with Hong Kong over new security law

Canada restricts dealings with Hong Kong over new security law

Man accused of ramming gate at Rideau Hall with truck faces multiple charges

Man accused of ramming gate at Rideau Hall with truck faces multiple charges

Hosting regular season MLB in Toronto “totally different ball game”

Hosting regular season MLB in Toronto “totally different ball game”

Siakam says he feels safe in Florida, despite explosion of COVID-19 cases

Siakam says he feels safe in Florida, despite explosion of COVID-19 cases

Most Read