Why be average?

Earlier, we exclusively reported the Campbell administration has blown its direct forest fire fighting budget in five of the last seven fiscal years. Those budgets were based on the average amount spent on fire fighting between 1993 and 2002. But such estimates were calculated differently prior to the release of the 2004/05 budget. Back then, the province used a rolling average based on the amount spent in the ten years preceding the budget. So why the change?

Well, according to the ministry of forests and range, government was "finding that firefighting costs were falling within the $55 million to $62 million range. When unpredictable or severe weather conditions led to firefighting costs outside the range, the results tended to dramatically exceed the budget, often by two to three times the amounts." As a result, "it is not possible to make a reasonable estimate in advance of what high fire activity seasons will cost."

That being said, though, the ministry stressed if "costs exceed the budgeted amount," forests and range "has statutory authorization to receive additional funds" to fight those fires.

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