The second straight season of severe wildfire conditions is a call to action for renewed efforts to deal with accumulated forest fuels around communities, Premier John Horgan says.
Horgan spoke in Prince George Tuesday with federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan after a tour of northern B.C. fire zones. They emerged from a meeting with Terry Teegee, B.C. Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit, whose community near Prince George has been evacuated for some time.
“Over the decades, I don’t want to blame anyone, but we have not been cleaning our forests,” Horgan said as he described the severe smoke and fire conditions B.C. is battling for a second summer. “There is too much fuel being left behind, and we need to address that.”
Horgan thanked Sajjan for the quick response of the Canadian Forces to B.C.’s call for assistance, after 200 troops and equipment were dispatched to a base in the Okanagan last week. Sajjan said armed forces have been increasingly called upon to assist with flooding and fires, and need to be ready for further effects of climate change.
“We’re all here today, Indigenous communities, federal, provincial, municipal representatives, to demonstrate the importance of us all working together in what is the second year in a row, a tragic wildfire season that’s had a profound effect on our economy, on wildlife and most importantly on public safety,” Horgan said.
“We are not out the woods yet. We don’t see rain in the foreseeable future.”