Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has given the thumbs up to the Government of British Columbia’s plan to invest tens of millions of dollars to make communities more resilient and protect them from the impact of severe weather.
“We are very pleased with the emergency preparedness investments contained in today’s B.C. budget, particularly in flood mitigation, earthquake preparedness and wildfire prevention,” Bill Adams, IBC’s vice president, Western & Pacific, said in a bureau statement issued Tuesday evening.
IBC reports that the B.C. government has announced investments in the following measures:
- Emergency Management B.C. for increased planning and outreach related to potential natural disasters, such as earthquake;
- emergency preparedness and prevention initiatives; and
- creation of the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., with a mandate of wildfire protection and mitigation.
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More specifically, a government budget highlights backgrounder, under the “Keeping Communities Safe” heading, notes that $85 million will be used to establish the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.; $10 million will go towards the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative for community wildfire protection plans, fire smart planning activities and fuel management projects; $55 million will be injected into emergency preparedness and prevention initiatives, such as upgrades to dikes and flood protection; and $10 million will go towards helping bolster training, administrative support and equipment renewals for volunteer ground search and rescue organizations.
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IBC “looks forward to supporting the BC government’s efforts to educate consumers on how to protect themselves and their property in the event of a severe weather event,” notes the bureau statement.
Adams adds that IBC further applauds the B.C. government’s “significant investment in infrastructure and seismic upgrades on school, hospitals and transportation networks.”
B.C. finance minister Michael de Jong [pictured left] said Tuesday that taxpayer-supported infrastructure spending will inject $12 billion into the economy over the next three years, build new projects and expand and sustain existing infrastructure. In all, 24% will go to health initiatives, 21% to post-secondary, 14% to education, 15% to other (including B.C. housing), and 26% to transportation, the highlights backgrounder notes.
A statement from the finance ministry reports the plan includes the following:
- $3.1 billion in total transportation infrastructure investment, including highway upgrades and transit infrastructure;
- $2.9 billion for new major health-care projects and upgrades to health facilities;
- $2.5 billion for post-secondary facilities; and
- $1.7 billion to maintain, replace, renovate, expand and seismically upgrade K-12 school facilities.
The B.C. government will once again balance its budget in 2015-2016, and in each year of the three-year fiscal plan, the ministry reports.