Fired up

Earlier, we exclusively reported the provincial government had estimated it would spent $62 million on direct forest fire fighting costs in 2009/10 - $46 million less than the average amount spent on such activities over the past fiscal ten years. According to provincial New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston, a dry spring means the Campbell administration could blow that budget. But it wouldn't be the first time. Since 2002/03, the government has only met those targets - which were previously based on fire fighting costs between 1993 and 2002 - twice. The following is a complete list of those targets, the explanation accompanying them in the government's budget and fiscal plans and the actual amount spent for those fiscal years.

2002/03 - $55 million ($37,780,801) - "This budget provides funding based on a historical median fire year and assumes implementation of a cost-shared fire protection model. Dryer-than-normal weather, particularly in the Interior, would likely affect costs. The annual cost of fighting forest fires has varied from $19 million to $154 million."

2003/04 - $55 million ($371,200,659) - "Funding based on a historical median fire year. Assumes implementation of cost-shared fire protection model. Drier than normal weather, particularly in the Interior, could affect costs. Annual costs have varied from $19 million to $154 million."

2004/05 - $55 million ($164,595,032) - "Funding based on historical average."

2005/06 - $55 million ($47,212,465) - "Funding based on historical average."

2006/07 - $55 million ($159,037,311) - "Funding based on historical average (1993-2002). Over the past 10 years, fire fighting costs have ranged from a low of $19M in 1997 to a high of $372M in 2003."

2007/08 - $55 million ($98,801,642) - "Over the past 10 years, fire fighting costs have ranged from a low of $19 million in 1997 to a high of $372 million in 2003."

2008/09 - $56 million (revised forecast $82,168,624) - "Over the past 10 years, fire fighting costs have ranged from a low of $19 million in 1997 to a high of $372 million in 2003."

2009/10 - $67 million - "Over the past 11 years, fire fighting costs have ranged from a low of $19 million in 1997 to a high of $372 million in 2003."

2010/11 & 2011/12 - $52 million

1 Comment

What this shows me is that the government doesn't seem to be willing to admit they don't have control over the natural environment. For six years they budgeted the same (low) amount despite a strong indication it was insufficient.

While I appreciate the government's intent to run a balanced budget, I think they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in this respect (and others).

Forest fires have no way of knowing there's a recession on, unfortunately. How DARE they flare up when natural gas royalties are down and the provincial coffers are bare?

Where are the government's priorities: to deliver a balanced budget at all costs to the citizens, or to serve the citizens in a responsible and responsive way?

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