Quesnel went four for four when it comes to resolutions at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Whistler.
Two of the resolutions revolved around wildfires, including one asking for harsher penalties for those who are convicted of crimes in evacuated areas.
City Councillor Ron Paull explains….
“This resolution was born primarily out of the 2017 wildfires when it was reported widely that there were persons that were caught, and sometimes apprehended for trespassing into vulnerable wildfire zones, particularly into evacuation zones, and they were coming in the back way to circumvent police roadblocks and they were helping themselves to people’s property and i was frustrated by the fact that there was no particularly enhanced penalty for this kind of cowardly crime, so that was what prompted me to put the resolution forward and as you know it was to encourage the Provincial and Federal Governments to strengthen the criminal code and make it so the penalties for what i call wildfire crime , and this extends to all manner of natural disaster, that they make the penalties more appropriate to the crime.”
Paull says another Quesnel City Council resolution that passed called on the province to foot 100 percent of the bill for fire mitigation work on crown land…
“and this was a widely held argument, not only for Quesnel, but all other municipalities that were effected. The municipalities were saying that the city taxpayers should not be responsible for remedial action, ie cleaning the fuel off of the forest floor outside of municipal boundaries, and again that resolution passed unanimously.”
Below is a list of all four Quesnel resolutions that passed.
B40 Professional Reliance Quesnel: Whereas the provincial government is undertaking a review of BC’s natural resource sector professional reliance model to be complete by Spring 2018; And whereas the use of professional reliance within BC’s resource sector is a long-standing practice; And whereas over the past decade the use of professional reliance has increased in response to government’s regulatory reform initiatives; And whereas since 2013 the Environmental Appeal Board, Forest Practices Board, Office of the Auditor General and Office of the Ombudsperson have highlighted the need for adequate oversight of qualified professionals in providing independent, objective advice to government regulators; And whereas there is increasing public concern related to specific instances of decision-making based on professional reliance: Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government ensure that government oversight of professional associations, and professional associations that oversee qualified professionals, employ best practices to protect the public interest in the management of public land by the natural resource sector.
B97 Wildfire Related Issues: Whereas very little has been done to actually protect rural communities from the threat of wildfires since the 2003 Filmon Firestorm Report; And whereas the threat of year-over-year catastrophic wildfires is increasing, putting communities at greater risk; And whereas the fundamental weakness in the current approach to protecting interface communities from wildfire risk is the downloading of the responsibility for managing and treating Crown forest land to local government: Therefore be it resolved that UBCM requests the provincial government to enable the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to become the lead agency for developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans, fuel management prescriptions for the Wildland Urban Interface (“WUI”), and fuel management treatments in collaboration with local government; And be it further resolved that the Province provide sufficient funding to the Forest Enhancement Society to fully fund WUI fuel management treatments so they can be undertaken expeditiously
B98 Wildfire Crime: Whereas in the wake of BC wildfires, many reports were made of persons illegally accessing restricted fire zones and in particular vulnerable evacuation zones to commit wildfire crime including trespass, vandalism, looting, theft of personal property, theft of wildfire fighting equipment and supplies and impersonation of wildfire or emergency personnel (‘fire marshals’); And whereas the BC Emergency Act and the Criminal Code of Canada are in need of strengthened language and provisions to specifically and appropriately target and prosecute perpetrators of wildfire crime, including crime which potentially threatens firefighter life and safety; And whereas penalties appropriate to the severity of such criminal activity in fire zones and vulnerable evacuation zones would enable and provide for meaningful prosecution and conviction, as well as providing a strong and effective deterrent to persons considering such crime: Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government and federal government be encouraged to take whatever actions deemed necessary to enable and provide for more appropriate and meaningful penalties for such wildfire crime and/or other similar emergencies situations. Endorsed by the North Central Local Government
B111 Grant Funding: Whereas local governments are accountable and autonomous orders of government; And whereas local governments have legally mandated obligations to prepare official community plans, multi-year budgets, long term capital plans based on more and more sophisticated asset management systems, and a variety of other strategic plans for their communities; And whereas local governments must be able to focus on implementing their publicly approved budgets and strategic plans rather than expending their limited staff and financial resources on grant applications and unnecessary reporting requirements: Therefore be it resolved that the provincial and federal governments restructure all their infrastructure and social and economic grant programs to mirror the federal gas tax allocation to local governments in order to provide ease of access to year over year incremental funding. Endorsed by the North Central Local Government Association