Budget 2022 provides more than $2.1 billion to help people recover from the devastating floods and wildfires of last year and to better protect communities against future climate disasters.
In response to the challenges that recent fires, flood and extreme heat have caused in British Columbia, the Province is working to build back better and make sure people and communities throughout B.C. are protected from future disasters.
From this new funding, $1.5 billion over the next three years will help support the Province’s ongoing response and recovery efforts. This includes $1.1 billion in contingencies to support those people, businesses and communities that have been hit hard with costs due to recent disasters.
Budget 2022 makes a significant one-time increase for costs under the Emergency Program Act, from $36 million to $436 million to support flood recovery costs. Funding will support ongoing disaster response and recovery activities, such as debris removal and cleanup, and dike repairs. Funding will also support programs such as Disaster Financial Assistance, which provides local governments, people, businesses and charitable organizations with assistance to recover.
The previously announced $5 billion in federal funding will also help the Province offset the costs of the response and recovery efforts from the floods and other recent natural disasters in B.C.
Wildfire, emergency response and prevention
A total of $145 million over three years will strengthen B.C.’s emergency management and wildfire services, including transforming the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round firefighting and risk mitigation workforce. This will allow both the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC to add capacity and equipment to deliver proactive services that focus on the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of wildfires and other emergencies.
A year-round wildfire service allows these public safety professionals to complete more fire mitigation work before and after the summer months, and support communities in their FireSmart initiatives.
Over the coming three years, an additional $98 million will fund wildfire prevention work and will help maintain road access to aid in future wildfire response. Budget 2022 also provides $90 million in community grants to complete FireSmart initiatives and fuel management activities that will make homes and communities safer from wildfire risk. The FireSmart program will be strengthened to help more communities participate in the program.
Local emergency preparedness and mitigation
The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund will receive $110 million to support communities and First Nations with emergency preparedness and mitigation. This has been a popular program with First Nations and local governments with funding for more than 960 community projects since its introduction in 2017. Funding streams include evacuation route planning, structural flood mitigation, volunteer fire department equipment and training, Indigenous cultural safety training, flood risk assessments and emergency operations centre training and supports.
In addition to the above funding, available to both local governments and First Nations, an additional $10 million in funding is allocated to support the particular emergency preparedness and mitigation needs of First Nations communities, which are often disproportionately impacted by disasters in British Columbia.
Climate change preparedness
Budget 2022 invests $83 million in the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy to help the province better prepare for the impacts of climate change. The strategy will invest in actions to improve knowledge of future climate impacts that will help increase the effectiveness of government investments.
Funding will expand climate monitoring networks with new equipment and tools measuring streamflow, groundwater, snowpack and other data, support resiliency work with local and Indigenous governments, and develop an extreme heat response framework.
To make sure that people and communities continue to receive timely and accurate information in the face of changing weather, the Province is also expanding the River Forecast Centre and floodplain mapping program. Floodplain mapping will help communities identify key dikes and priority investments.
Funding for the strategy will also continue the work generated through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative with a $30-million investment. B.C.’s streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands store carbon, absorb flooding and storm surges, supply drinking water, and provide critical habitat for fish and other species. Last year, the Province invested $27 million to support more than 60 projects at over 200 sites across B.C. as part of nature-based solutions to climate change impacts, many in partnership with First Nations and local communities.
Climate events have reinforced the need to build a stronger B.C. by investing in the province’s economic, environmental, and social strength to make life better for people now and in the years ahead.
Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance –
“We have all seen the impact that climate change is having on people’s lives and in our communities. That’s why while we continue the fight against climate change, we are also investing to strengthen our defences so we can protect people, communities and businesses from future climate-related disasters.”
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General –
“Recent climate-related disasters, such as floods, heat waves and wildfires, have been the most challenging on record for people in British Columbia and have demonstrated the need to significantly change how we do things. We are making it possible for people and communities to recovery and become more resilient in the future.”
Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development –
“I have seen first-hand the devastating impacts of wildfires on communities across B.C. and had the privilege of meeting many of the dedicated staff who work on the front lines, season after season. The significant investments we are making to create a year-round BC Wildfire Service and shift from a reactive to proactive approach will help people and communities better prepare for and recover from wildfires in the future.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“People across the province know the impacts of the climate crisis – it is here now and we need to respond with great urgency. Budget 2022 does just that with unprecedented investments to help us recover from climate-fuelled disasters and to prepare for the future extreme weather events with stronger, more resilient communities and infrastructure.”
To read Budget 2022, Stronger Together, visit: https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2022/