Two members of the BC Forest Practices Board were named recovery liaisons for British Columbia’s Provincial Capital District, in the wake of a devastating wildfire season that left 3,000 people without homes and 44 people dead. Luc MacFarlane and Brian Woods were announced as the department’s employees tasked with ensuring that disaster recovery funding reaches intended recipients and ensuring that workers don’t be laid off during the reconstruction effort.
In a meeting with provincial officials in Richmond, B.C., Ms. MacFarlane said the two men “are acting as our eyes and ears, and ensuring that those funds are being spent in the right manner, the funds are being spent effectively, and the funding is being spent in line with the communities’ needs.”
A 2017 Kelowna wildfire, which exploded to 650 square miles in size, engulfed the city of more than 53,000 residents, forcing many residents to seek shelter in their homes. The fire burned 24 houses. And 10 homes and approximately 50 outbuildings were destroyed in the historic wildfire that touched the province’s northwest coast in May.
David Olauson, the B.C. minister of natural resources, lauded the appointees on social media, saying they will be in the province, keeping an eye on how the investments are being spent and ensuring that “people don’t go back to work in an unsafe environment.”
The group was told on Friday by provincial government officials that about 50,000 trees have been removed from the area, including 350,000 dead trees. They have also been creating firebreaks on roads, but provincial officials did not go into detail, as to how they might be paid for.
Government officials described the fire as being in the “dominant phase,” with fighting it a “continued concern.”
“They are doing everything they can,” a local Emergency Management BC official said of the recovery team. “Our goal is to get people back in their homes as soon as possible.”
Later, Mr. Olauson tweeted a photograph of a fire that has been burning near a town called Mosquito Creek, east of Prince George, whose residents have been evacuated and now live in campgrounds.