This past week, our province faced one of the greatest disasters in recent history — a series of floods that destroyed businesses and farmland, cut off vital highways, ports, and railways, and even uprooted and displaced entire towns. The impacts these events will have on our province’s supply chain and on the livelihoods of thousands of British Columbians will be felt for weeks if not months to come.
Once again this NDP government displayed a horrible lack of preparedness, a failure to communicate the dangers and recovery efforts to British Columbians, and an inability to learn from the mistakes and systemic failures that have plagued its response to three separate emergencies this past year alone.
NDP ministers have claimed that there was no possible warning of the dangers to come, despite explicit warnings from meteorologists for days leading up to the atmospheric river. Dire weather forecasts of up to 150 millimetres of rain were clear on Friday. Municipalities like the City of Abbotsford issued a report a year ago warning of the danger that could come from an overflow of the Nooksack River in Washington State. And all of this has been preceded by years of reports from scientists warning that these extreme weather events will become far more common.
While the government says it used every tool available, what about the emergency alert system? Since 2019, B.C. has been the only province not to use the Ready Alert system. The government didn’t use it during the devastating forest fires of 2018. They didn’t use it during the 2021 heat dome or during the 2021 wildfire season, which destroyed much of the village of Lytton. And they didn’t even use it when the recent floods swept out roads, flooded the Sumas Prairie, and forced the entire town of Merritt to evacuate.
This government refuses to learn from these crises, and there are significant steps we as a province must take to aid in our recovery and future disaster preparedness. The Opposition caucus has called on the NDP to commit to three actions including the establishment of an all-party working group to review the provincial government’s response to emergencies. We’ve also asked the government to expedite the actions and procedures needed to ensure the Alert Ready system is activated and ready for use, and immediately begin holding regular public briefings with the media and general public to outline specific details relating to disaster coordination, emergency response, and recovery.
For too long, the NDP has refused to accept blame or learn from its mistakes in the face of disaster. British Columbians deserve better. They deserve real action and real change so that our families, businesses, and communities can better prepared and protect themselves from future crises.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.