Canadian Forces troops arrive in Quesnel for forest fire duty in 2017. More armed forces were deployed in B.C. this summer to help with record wildfire activity. (Canadian Forces photo)

B.C. communities call for wildfire prevention help

Tax, insurance cuts proposed for private land ‘fire smart’ efforts

As Canadian Forces troops headed home from the second straight year of record B.C. wildfires, local politicians called for new incentives for property owners to reduce forest fuels on their land.

Delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention supported a motion from Williams Lake on Thursday, calling for tax breaks and reduced home insurance rates for people who make their properties more resistant to wildfire.

The motion calls for options including “reduced home insurance rates upon certification of adequate ‘fire smart’ status, a tax rebate in correlation to the amount of fibre removed from property to achieve ‘fire smart’ status, and/or a reduction in property taxes once certification of ‘fire smart’ status is achieved.”

The proposal calls on the Insurance Bureau of Canada to consider the reduced rates.

Quesnel council had two resolutions. One noted “very little has been done” to implement the recommendations of the 2003 report from former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon to tackle the fuel load. It called for the province to take the lead on community wildfire protection.

“The fundamental weakness in the current approach to protecting interface communities from wildfire risk is the downloading of responsibility for managing and treating Crown forest land to local government,” the resolution states.

Quesnel also called for the province to toughen penalties for wildfire-related crime, after reports of trespassing and theft in fire evacuation zones.

RELATED: 2018 passes 2017 as B.C.’s biggest wildfire year

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Thursday that he has notified the federal government that the Canadian Armed Forces are no longer needed to assist with wildfire mop-up and security.

“This will now enable the orderly withdrawal of ground troops, command personnel, aircraft and equipment,” Farnworth said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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