Here's something we're going to be watching for in the upcoming provincial budget: the government has blown its forest fire fighting forecasts six times between 2002/03 and 2009/10 - in part, because of lowballing. In fact, in February, the Campbell administration estimated those costs would decline from $62 million to $52 million because, according to Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell, the government would be upgrading its tanker bases and dispatch system.
Since then, though Minister Bell has stated severe forest fires "could be an ongoing issue that we're facing with climate change, with hotter dryer weather. And I may be fooled. And next year we may be back into a wetter summer. I don't know that. But I do know that it appears we're getting hotter, dryer weather. And I think we need to be vigilant. And I think we need to change our strategies and plans as we learn more from each individual fire season."
As a result, an indication of Minister Bell's commitment to such change might be an increase in the direct forest fire fighting budget estimate for 2010/11 and 2011/12 - despite an earlier suggestion he wouldn't be reviewing those forecasts.