Municipalities and First Nations in B.C. will receive another $180 million to prepare for disasters related to climate change.
The province will shell out the money through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, which has so far distributed $369 million since its establishment in 2017.
Premier David Eby announced the additional funding Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 21) in Victoria.
Eby said British Columbians have seen more than their share of climate disasters.
“(So) there’s urgency to be ready and equipped to minimize damage and recover quickly when the worst happens.”
Eby said later that the additional $180 million could be eligible for federal matching.
The province paired the additional funding with a new online hub offering hazard and mapping tools, risk data and other resources to help communities better prepare for future disasters related to climate change.
Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said recent extreme weather events have caused a lot of destruction in B.C.
“(People) are looking to our government to help keep them and their families safe,” Ma said.
Jen Ford, president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, praised the announcement.
“Accurate data is critical for mitigation and planning activities, and our members will be intent to utilize the (new information) platform and provide input to support its development.”
The provincial announcement comes amidst questions about the pace of the federal and provincial response to recent disasters such as the 2021 fire that destroyed much of Lytton.
While the federal government announced $77 million toward rebuilding the community in 2022, it has also faced criticism for its slow response. Provincial support totals just under $49 million.
Ma said the province has provided significant funding to help Lytton rebuild in praising the work of local officials, adding that the rebuilding of Lytton has to be driven by locals, not officials working off their desk in Victoria. But she also acknowledged that more work lies ahead.
Key issues include what Ma called “significant” archaeological work, she said, adding a report detailing this work is due to come forward. The municipality announced last month that a private contractor has substantially completed the removal of debris, a complicated process because of hazardous materials.
Also still outstanding are substantial sums of money from the federal government for recovery efforts in the Fraser Valley.
So far, the federal government has ponied up 46 per cent of the estimated federal share for costs connected to the 2021 atmospheric river, up from 18 per cent as first reported by B.C.’s Office of the Auditor General.
Ma said on Thursday (Feb. 16) that provincial officials remain in regular contact with federal counterparts.
“We have no concerns at this time regarding the pace of payments we’re receiving from the federal government and will continue to work closely with Canada on the recovery from recent climate events,” she said.
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