The Province’s Finance Minister says she does not believe that MLA Donna Barnett’s proposal for property tax relief in 2018 is the best way to help communities to impacted by wildfire.
Carole James responded to a request for comment from MYCARIBOONOW in a written statement.
“Every British Columbian feels for the people who lost their homes or businesses in the wildfires. We want to get them the supports they need to make it through this difficult time,” says James.
“That’s why we’re helping evacuees, communities, and businesses impacted by wildfires with $100 million in supports through the Red Cross. We’re also providing $1,500 emergency grants to eligible small businesses, First Nations whose livelihood is based on cultural practices, and not-for-profit organizations that are located in areas that have been under an evacuation order or alert.”
James adds that through the 2017 budget, Government is providing $15 million to upgrade wildfire infrastructure, including buildings, trailers, and air tanker bases, and $140 million to protect communities from wildfire with projects focused on wildfire risk reduction, reforestation, wildlife habitat restoration, and raising awareness through the Fire Smart program.
“BC Assessment is working to identify areas affected by wildfires/flooding,” says James. “I want to be clear that damage occurring this year does not affect 2017 property assessments or 2017 property taxes.”
The British Columbia government according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is already implementing a long-term plan to recover from this year’s unprecedented wildfire activity and support affected British Columbians.
“Now that the provincial state of emergency ends at midnight tonight (Pacific time), the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is assuming leadership from Emergency Management BC for government’s long-term wildfire recovery efforts,” the Ministry said in a news release.
Four key components are incorporated in the Government’s plan:
- People and Communities: examining a range of social services required, based on community need, such as long-term mental-health support;
- Economy: identifying short-, medium- and long-term recovery supports for the small business, tourism and resource-based sectors
- Environment: providing co-ordinated support for land-based recovery operations, such as reforestation
- Infrastructure and Reconstruction: identifying recovery supports for local governments and First Nations in their direct recovery of infrastructure losses, with a focus on longer-term mitigation and adaptation.
Regional economic officers based in communities that include Quesnel, Kamloops and Invermere are working closely with communities affected by wildfires in the Cariboo, Thompson and Kootenay regions to ensure people and communities have access to the services they need.
“Throughout the recovery process, there will be ongoing engagement with local governments, First Nations, and sector stakeholders,” says Minister Doug Donaldson.
Financial assistance to date includes:
- $100 million to the Canadian Red Cross to assist people who have been evacuated from their homes. To date, $21 million has been provided to 52,000 individuals. Emergency assistance grants of $1,500 each are also being distributed to eligible small businesses and not-for-profit organizations in evacuated areas and areas impacted by highway closures.
- $200,000 each to the Cariboo-Chilcotin Tourism Association, the Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association and the Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association to help support tourism businesses
- $20 million AgriRecovery initiative to help agricultural producers
- $6 million to replace damaged fencing along highways and on Crown rangeland