Stay vigilant as wildfire, drought risk remains severe

23-07-24 –Despite scattered showers throughout much of the province on Monday, July 24, 2023, people are urged to be prepared and continue to follow all regional fire prohibitions and local water restrictions due to extreme wildfire risks and the ongoing drought.

Despite recent rain, most of the province remains in a Drought Level 4 or Drought Level 5 classification. People, businesses and governments throughout the province are encouraged to continue water conservation efforts. Additionally, the wildfire danger rating for the southern part of the province remains high to extreme, with pockets of the northeast of B.C. sharing similar conditions.

This past weekend, fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre experienced significant growth. The Ross Moore Lake Fire south of Kamloops covers 2,600 hectares. Additionally, an evacuation order has been expanded in the Casper Creek area to include people in Seton Portage and the Tsal'alh First Nation. People should follow directions from their First Nation or local authority when placed under an evacuation order or alert. As of July 24, there are approximately 1,030 people under evacuation order in B.C., and 3,700 people under evacuation alert.

Since April 1, 2023, there have been 1,454 wildfires that have burned more than 1.48 million hectares of land. There are 481 active wildfires, with more than half classified as out of control.

Nearly 600 out-of-province and international personnel are on the ground supporting wildfire suppression. This includes support from Mexico, Australia, Brazil and the United States, and the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone or download the BC Wildfire Service app. The mobile app allows individuals to submit photos along with their report, which helps inform BC Wildfire Service operational decision-making.

Stay informed as conditions change at or through the BC Wildfire Service app. The Province has extended the state of emergency for the unincorporated Stikine region to support the ongoing co-ordinated response to wildfires in the area and ensure public safety. As of July 24, the state of emergency has been extended for 14 days and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.

Be ready to evacuate:

* Follow the instructions of First Nations and local authorities.

* If you are under an evacuation order, it means you must leave the area.

* By not leaving, you risk not only the health and safety of you and your family, but also of first responders who may need to come back to help you.

* Help fire crews keep you and your community safe by following evacuation orders.

* The Province reminds the public to prepare their households for any hazards they may face. This includes making a household plan and thinking about friends and family who may be able to provide shelter and support should an evacuation order be issued. This will help ensure local accommodation is available for those who have no other option.

* Upon receipt of an evacuation order, it is important that evacuees contact their designated reception centre to ensure that they can receive supports. The evacuation orders issued by communities direct evacuees to the locations of reception centres.

* After determining eligibility for Emergency Support Services (ESS), evacuees may receive ESS supports for food, clothing, incidentals, billeting and/or lodging, either through vouchers or digitally if the evacuee and community are registered with the Evacuee Registration and Assistance tool.

* People are strongly encouraged to pre-register for ESS. This can expedite an evacuees' experience at a reception centre and allow for e-transfers, where applicable. To register, visit the Province's Evacuee Registration and Assistance online tool:


British Columbia uses a 0-5 scale to measure the severity of drought in the province, with Drought Level 5 being the most severe. Of the 34 water basins throughout B.C., eight are in Drought Level 5 and 13 are categorized as Drought Level 4. Water basins classified as Drought Level 5 include Fort Nelson, South Peace, Bulkley-Lakes, Finlay, Parsnip, Upper Fraser West, West Vancouver Island and East Vancouver Island.

People and businesses are being urged to follow their local government or First Nation's water restrictions and prioritize water conservation, as communities and the environment will be impacted in areas classified as Drought Level 4 to 5.

Drought is a recurring feature of climate change that involves reduced precipitation, such as rain, during an extended period, resulting in a water shortage. Drought can affect people in different ways, resulting in agricultural, health, economic and environmental consequences.

In recent months, the Province has supported communities in preparation for summer.

The Province is asking local and regional governments to be diligent in monitoring their water-supply levels and to be proactive about enacting conservation measures. If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, the Province may issue temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act to water licensees to support drinking water for communities and avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems. Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water use with environmental flow needs.

People and businesses should reduce water use wherever possible and observe all watering restrictions from their local or regional government, water utility provider or irrigation district.

Indoor water conservation tips:

* Reduce personal water use, such as taking shorter showers.

* If washing dishes by hand, fill the sink rather than letting the water run freely.

* Instead of running the tap, keep a jug of cool water in the fridge.

* Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.

* Regularly check your home for leaks. Undetected leaks in your home can waste many litres of water each year.

* Run full loads of laundry and full loads in the dishwasher.

Outdoor water conservation tips:

* Water lawns sparingly, if at all.

* Water things, such as gardens, in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation.

* Clean the driveway with a broom instead of a hose.

* Check for leaks in outdoor pipes, faucets and hoses.

* Talk to a local nursery or garden supplies centre about drought-tolerant plants.

* Use rain barrels to collect rainwater for outdoor plant use.

* If you have a swimming pool, consider a water-saving pool filter.

Learn More:

BC Wildfire Service information and updates:

Drought information and updates:

For the latest videos from wildfire incidents visit:

Fire bans and restrictions:

Emergency information: and

To check current weather alerts, visit:

Air quality advisories:

For preparedness guides from PreparedBC, including floods, wildfires and extreme heat, visit:

For tips about how to prepare grab-and-go bags, visit:

To register for Emergency Support Services, visit:

To stay informed the latest road conditions, visit:

Dedicated hub to target repeat violent

offending coming to Nanaimo

The Province is helping keep people safe by creating hubs of police, dedicated prosecutors and probation officers focused on tackling repeat violent offending in every region of the province.

Twelve hubs are part of the Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative, which is focused on targeted enforcement as well as enhanced investigation and monitoring. Hubs will be located in four regions of British Columbia: the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Interior and the North. In the Vancouver Island region, hubs will be based in Victoria and Nanaimo.

The initiative is structured to meet the unique needs of each community. The hubs will work with local stakeholders and other existing programs, such as situation tables and Assertive Community Treatment teams, through collaborative information sharing.

"Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, wherever they live," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. "The rise in repeat violent offending is top of mind for British Columbians and it's also a top priority for our government. We're taking action by standing up 12 hubs throughout B.C. to harness the expertise and experience that will disrupt repeat violent offending and make a real difference in B.C. neighbourhoods."

The hubs will be based in Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Prince George, Williams Lake and Terrace. Each hub will serve surrounding communities within its region, co-ordinating responses across the justice system and connecting offenders with the services they need to support better outcomes.

"Crimes committed by repeat violent offenders continue to be a concern across the country," said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. "These are tough challenges that require a co-ordinated approach. That's why we're investing in dedicated Crown counsel to provide criminal law advice, and independent prosecutorial support and services to support the hubs and help build safer, more just communities."

The Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative will be supported by the new Special Investigation and Targeted Enforcement (SITE) program. The Province is investing $16 million over three years so law enforcement can strengthen targeted investigations of repeat violent offending cases and improve information sharing between police agencies.

"The impacts and challenges of repeat violent offenders requires a multi-agency response," said Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, Surrey. "The new Specialized Investigation and Targeted Enforcement program is a step in the right direction. SITE will enhance public safety by adding to the investigative options available to police in B.C. It will also strengthen co-ordination and information sharing between police agencies, similar to the successes achieved with B.C.'s Provincial Tactical Enforcement Priority, which SITE is modelled after."

SITE will expand police investigative resources and targeted enforcement capacity and allow police agencies to enhance co-ordination and share information quicker. This funding will make enforcement more effective, improving information gathered for prosecutors and boost police capacity for collaboration.

The Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative and SITE will advance the Safer Communities Action Plan's goals of strengthening enforcement to hold individuals accountable, and leveraging services to create safe, healthy communities for everyone.

The Safer Communities Action Plan aligns with recommendations from several community safety reports, including the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act and the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.

Quick Facts:

* The LePard-Butler investigation into repeat offending and violent stranger attacks' 28 recommendations were released on Sept. 21, 2022, and the full report was made public on Oct. 1, 2022.

* The Safer Communities Action Plan's initiatives include:

* $25 million over three years for a dedicated Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative focused on addressing repeat violent offending in communities throughout British Columbia;

* $230 million over three years for provincial and specialized RCMP units;

* expanding mental-health crisis response teams into more communities, so police can focus on crime and people in crisis are met early by health-care workers and community members; and

* introducing "unexplained wealth order" legislation to go after the houses, cars and luxury goods of high-level organized criminals.

To learn more about the Safer Communities Plan, see:

To read the full rapid investigation into repeat offending report, as well as the BC First Nations Justice Council's submission to the investigation panel, visit:

For more information about the Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative, see:

Province sets $500 million
to limit ferry fare hikes


The province is providing $500 million to limit fare increases on BC Ferries.

"Every day, people use BC Ferries to get to work, and visit family and friends, as well as plan vacations," said Premier David Eby. "We know the cost of everything continues to go up due to global inflation, but by acting now, we can prevent double-digit fare increases from hitting people who depend on our ferries."

Through a recent submission to the BC Ferries commissioner and the impacts of global inflation over the past 18 months, it was clear BC Ferries users could face fare increases of 10.4% a year for the four-year period of 2024 to 2028. With this $500-million investment, the B.C. government's goal is to keep annual average fare increases below 3% a year. Final fare increases will be determined by the BC Ferries commissioner.

"Our government recognizes the importance of reliable and affordable ferry service for travel and goods movement," said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. "It is vital that people living in B.C.'s coastal communities that depend on ferries - and all British Columbians - are well served and supported by this service."

The increase in core costs like fuel, along with higher inflation are factors in driving up overall costs for BC Ferries. The $500 million will also support greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction through electrification of vessels and other initiatives to green the fleet and operations. Businesses will benefit from affordable ferry rates as many small businesses rely on BC Ferries for the movement of goods through freight transport.

The BC Ferries commissioner is in the process of determining, by March 31, 2023, the preliminary annual fare increases (price cap) for the next four-year period starting April 1, 2024. The final annual fare increases for the next performance term will be published by Sept. 30, 2023.

Today's announcement builds on other actions the B.C. government has taken to improve service and keep fares affordable. In spring 2019, the Province added 2,700 round trips, reduced fares by 15% on smaller and northern routes, froze fares on the major routes, and brought back free passenger travel for seniors, Monday through Thursday. In 2020, $308 million in Safe Restart funding was provided to BC Ferries to cover COVID-19 related operational losses, protect service and limit fare increases.

Joy MacPhail, BC Ferries Services Board chair - "Ferry services are vital for our coastal communities and economy. Thanks to the provincial government's investment, ferry commuters will have continued access to affordable, reliable and accessible service and cleaner, modern and efficient ferries."

Lecia Stewart, chair, B.C. Ferry Authority: "We make excellent progress when we work together in the public's interest. The provincial government's record amount of funding will support reliable, affordable and efficient travel for coastal British Columbians. We look forward to continued collaboration on this important part of B.C.'s transportation network."

Jill Sharland, interim president, BC Ferries - "This significant funding from the Province supports necessary service enhancements and infrastructure investments while keeping fares affordable for the travelling public and our commercial customers. We are thankful we have a government partner who understands the complexity of running one of the largest ferry systems in the world and is as committed as we are to providing safe and reliable service to the people and communities of B.C.'s west coast."

Diana Mumford, chair, Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs group, and Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee chair - "The funding announcement being shared today will be a very welcome benefit for all ferry users on coastal B.C. This is especially true for those that live and work in communities reliant on ferries to travel to work, medical services or visit family. This funding will ensure BC Ferries fares continue to be affordable for B.C. residents."