Bald Mountain fire forced closure of Highway 20 from Williams Lake to Bella Coola. (BC Wildfire Service)

Bald Mountain fire forced closure of Highway 20 from Williams Lake to Bella Coola. (BC Wildfire Service)

Financial support offered to fire-affected businesses

$1,500 emergency grants also for aboriginal communities, non-profits

The B.C. government is offering emergency grants of $1,500 for eligible small businesses affected by wildfires in the B.C. Interior.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced Monday the grants will be administered through the Red Cross, which has also distributed $600 payments to individuals and families forced from their homes by fires. The grants will also be available to aboriginal communities and non-profits affected by fires and highway closures.

Businesses and organizations along Highway 20, evacuation areas on Highway 97 south of Prince George, Highway 26 to Barkerville and the eastern Cariboo Regional District communities of Horsefly and Likely.

The eligibility will be reviewed and adjusted as conditions change, but the government wants to get the program going as soon as possible, Donaldson said.

Applications are open today and online application forms are available here. Information on the program and links are also available at www.redcross.ca and the Red Cross has a small business phone helpline at 1-855-999-3345. Phone service is available Monday to Friday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Eligible organizations are those with 50 employers or fewer, have a income of less than $250,000 per year, have been in operation on or before July 7, 2017 and have resumed operations or are intending to restart as soon as possible.

“We know that hundreds of small businesses in rural B.C. have been adversely impacted by wildfire activity and this initial support is designed to give these businesses some assistance as they resume operations again,” said Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston.

Rain across some of the fire-affected regions helped slow down fires, but B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said they were showers and the effect is temporary.

“We’re likely going to see conditions rebound pretty quickly here,” Skrepnek said.

Dr. Bonnie Henry of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that the smoke that has hung over some communities for the past month has led to an increase in medical visits from people with chronic respiratory conditions, it is not expected to have long-term impacts.

“We still consider even the month to be relatively short term exposure,” Henry said. “We don’t expect long-term health effects as you would see with long-term exposure to air pollution like you would see in a city like Beijing.”

The latest estimate in area burned by the more than 1,000 wildfires reported since April 1 is 7,290 square kilometres, an area more than twice the size of Metro Vancouver. By that measure it is the second largest fire season on record for B.C., with more than 8,500 square kilometres burned in 1958.

Costs to date are $292 million, with 4,000 people working on the fire control effort.

Skrepnek said many seasonal firefighters and support workers are preparing to return to school or work after the Labour Day weekend, and plans are underway to replace them if necessary. Fire department dispatchers and military personnel are being recruited, he said.

bc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Numerous Comox Valley projects get CERIP grants

Numerous Comox Valley projects have received grants through the Community Economic Recovery… Continue reading

Thrifty Foods. (Black Press file photo)
Thrifty Foods confirms staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Courtenay

The company currently lists 12 stores within B.C. with confirmed cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Vancouver Island theatre can’t give you movies, but it can serve popcorn

Sidney’s Star Cinema using popcorn sales to prop up COVID-plagued bottom line

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: B.C. teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Most Read