The provincial NDP will not be declaring a state of emergency in B.C., despite calls to do so by local officials.
On Tuesday, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson called on Premier John Horgan to declare a B.C. state of emergency in light of the dozens of wildfires in the region.
“The reason I’m calling for the state of emergency is that we can get more resources, we can get federal help,” Doerkson told the Free Press Monday afternoon. “Let’s not go this alone. Let’s use every resource we can.”
In a statement Monday night, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General said the province would not be declaring a state of emergency at this time, noting “all necessary and requested resources” had already been deployed to the affected areas.
“A provincial declaration of a state of emergency has not been necessary to provide assistance to people, to access funding or to coordinate or obtain additional resources, including federal assets,” the statement reads. “A provincial state of emergency will be enacted if and when it’s required. In the meantime, we continue to support and listen to the concerns of local governments and actively monitor the situation.”
Doerkson said he wasn’t aware of any reason why a state of emergency has not yet been declared. At an information meeting for evacuees he attended Sunday evening, he noted a fire official said the BC Wildfire Service was stretched too thin for the number of fires currently burning.
There are more than 100 wildfires listed in B.C. as of Monday afternoon, including 13 wildfires of note. Five of these are within the Cariboo Fire Centre.
In the South Cariboo, an evacuation order has been in place for Deka Lake and Judson Road residents, due to the 300-hectare wildfire in that area. Evacuation alerts are also in place for properties near Si Lake and Canim Lake, both fires of note and listed as “out of control.”
While Doerkson acknowledged the challenges of keeping the public up-to-date in fast-changing conditions, he said he is hopeful a state of emergency declaration could help speed up the output of important information.
“We know things change fast, but to have a website updated every 12 hours in these conditions is not appropriate. But that’s what they have the staffing for right now,” Doerkson said.
Doerkson said he was relieved to see firefighters from around the province arrive in 100 Mile House over the weekend.
“It’s amazing to see those guys show up, and it’s comforting to know that we can rely on other communities,” he said.