Last month, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities announced it had put a $500,000 annual cap on the amount of provincial government funding it provides for fuel treatment projects, restricting those dollars to "areas with significant wildfire threat ratings." The reason: "there is still much to be done, and the funding remaining under the initiative is limited." That suggests local governments could thin or clear even more wooded areas if the funding remaining under that initiative wasn't limited. So shouldn't the province be committing more money to fuel treatment if British Columbia is looking at another catastrophic fire season?
Well, here's what Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell had to say: "You've put a whole bunch of what-ifs. And if we put all the what-ifs on the table that we have every year, the provincial budget would go from $40 billion to perhaps $100 billion. So I think that's frankly a bit naive...There continues to remain significant money - between $6 to $8 million inside the UBCM fund. No one has come to me and said that is insufficient this year, that that is a constraint on their ability to provide appropriate protection."