As the province grapples with its third week of storm-related flooding – on the heels of a busy wildfire season – work continues on the long-awaited rewriting of the Emergency Program Act.
Cariboo Regional District chair Margo Wagner, who sits on the Provincial Flood and Wildfire Review Committee, was in Victoria last week where she met with Emergency Management BC to discuss issues including provincial response to emergencies in highly populated areas versus rural ones.
Wagner said the process of rewriting the EPA is a challenging one. The province had initially hoped to have the new framework ready for the legislature by 2020, but the process was delayed due to COVID-19. Further complicating the process is the multitude of emergencies that have taken place throughout the province this past year, including a deadly heat dome, devastating wildfires and now widespread flooding.
“With the disasters we seem to constantly be having, the goalposts keep changing,” said Wagner, who is going into her fourth year on the committee. “But we can’t keep having this in limbo, we’ll have to make it the best it can possibly be by the time it hits the legislature.”
While the details surrounding the rewriting of the EPA are still “fairly under wraps,” Wagner said she is interested to see what kind of response the current massive flooding taking place in the province – specifically in the heavily populated Fraser Valley – will receive from the province.
“It will be interesting once this is done and the debrief part begins, as to how the larger municipalities feel once they find out what is covered and what isn’t covered,” she said.
Having lived through environmental disasters more than once throughout the Cariboo, Wagner said she knows there can sometimes be challenges in dealing with Emergency Management BC and the province in the aftermath.
“I just want to ensure that everybody has a level playing field,” she said.
The Emergency Program Act was first introduced in 1993 and the province has been working towards modernizing it for the past several years. The rewritten act is expected to be introduced to the legislature in the fall of 2022.