Provincial budget report calls for investments in education, help for wildfire affected communities

By Greg Fry
November 15, 2017 - 3:30pm

KAMLOOPS — Support for wildfire affected communities and further investments in education.

Those were just two of the areas a provincial all-party committee on the Budget 2018 Consultation focused on in its newly released report.

Though an exact dollar figure wasn't identified, the committee emphasized "the importance of not only providing supports for evacuees during an emergency situation, but also ensuring the rebuilding of businesses and communities."

The committee also recommended:

  • Increasing funding for forest management, including reforestation, public oversight and fuel treamtents to reduce fire hazards and future costs.
  • Incentivize the remediation and salvage of burned timber, including expedeting the approval of permits.
  • Providing funding to increase public awareness and education to develop a culture of prevention, preparedness and resiliency among British Columbians regarding natural disasters, including wildfires.
  • Increase funding to Emergency Management BC to improve recovery efforts, especially for communities most adversely affected by this year's wildfires, including appropriate levels of support for evacuees and rebuilding or continuity initiatives for local businesses and communities.

On the education file, the committee recommended developing a strategy and proactively fund the construction of new schools at elementary, middle and high school levels to meet demands in geographical areas of current and anticipated population growth, and to address issues such as overcapacity and reliance on portables.

Other priorities identified by the committee included increased affordable housing and child care, improved health care, more money for transportation infrastructure, continued protection of the environment and prudent fiscal management.

The committee held 12 public hearings in communities throughout B.C., heard close to 200 presentations, and received nearly 300 written, audio and video sumbissions and more than 650 responses to an online survey.

You can access the report by clicking here.

The annual report is meant to inform B.C.'s finance minister in her 2018 budget deliberations. The 2018 budget will be released early next year.


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