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ADVANCE TIMES EXCLUSIVE

AT YOUR SERVICE: MLAs suggest staying the course on battling of B.C. wildfire

Question-and-answer feature calling on those elected to office in Langley

The Langley Advance Times recently introduced this new weekly feature, call it “At Your Service.”

It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.

Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.

Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley school board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.

The answers provided will be published in their entirety online each Sunday.

MOST RECENT: AT YOUR SERVICE: No current need for year-round schooling in Langley, trustees agree

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QUESTION

Both Langley MLAs were asked the same question: Should the province permanently increase the number of firefighters available to fight wild fires?

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ANSWERS

MLA Megan Dykeman

Firstly, I want to thank all firefighters currently serving throughout the province. You are putting your lives at risk for us, and we are all grateful for your service.

On top of an unimaginable year-and-a-half of the pandemic, we are seeing one of the most active wildfire seasons ever. We know that climate change is contributing to this year’s conditions, and our government has listened to experts and taken action to enhance our fire response.

Since 2018, the government has implemented 92 per cent of the 108 recommendations laid out in The New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in B.C.

These have been addressed by investing more in prevention and mitigation, by improving predictive services, equipment, and communications.

It has also meant training and hiring more firefighters, including 147 Indigenous firefighters in partnership with the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. in a training initiative for First Nations community crews.

With this year’s extreme heat and dry conditions, we are grateful for partnerships we’ve made across the country and around the world that are bringing more crews here to assist our firefighters and keep British Columbians safe during this rare state of emergency.

There is so much organization, dedication, and hard work that goes into each fire season, and that’s why we have a world-class wildfire response in B.C. As the years go on and fire seasons like these potentially become more frequent, the BC NDP government will continue to do what it can to support firefighters and keep British Columbians safe.

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MLA Andrew Mercier

A. Firefighters throughout B.C. are facing some of the toughest challenges our province has ever seen. I want to say an enormous “thank you” for all the incredible work that fire personnel are doing to keep us safe.

After the unprecedented fire and flood seasons of 2017, our government acted rapidly.

In recent years, we increased the direct fire budget by $73 million to $136 million, investing in more resources, hiring more firefighters, and improving our intake and recruitment processes.

This also led to better community engagement and better communication technology, such as the BC Wildfire App, to help communities be better prepared for wildfires.

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), in collaboration with other partners, has been able to improve our wildfire response by increasing the number of structural protection units and training more firefighters to use specialized equipment.

We have some of the best wildfire responders in the world.

When necessary, like this year, we work closely with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre to bring in more firefighting resources to assist our fire crews and contractors. That’s why we are seeing amazing people come from other parts of the country and other places – like Mexico and Australia– to lend a hand this year.

The BC NDP government takes the safety of British Columbians and first responders to heart and is always working hard to improve our wildfire response. I’m confident that this will continue.

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UP NEXT

Next week’s Langley MPs are being asked: Should Canada have re-opened to American tourists without immediate reciprocity from the U.S.?

Watch for their answers online Sunday.

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