Prime Minister Stephen Harper is willing to talk with B.C. and Saskatchewan about developing a national plan for fighting wildfires.
During a visit Thursday afternoon to the scene of the Westside Road fire in West Kelowna, Harper said he will speak with Premiers Christy Clark and Brad Wall once the fire season is over. Clark and Wall said a week ago a national approach to fighting wildfires is needed, fearing this year’s fires are the new normal.
“Once the dust settles, so to speak, on this, we’re obviously going to sit down and assess what new or different needs to be done in the future — what needs to be done in terms of better co-ordination, resources, mitigation. We’ll look at all of those things,” said Harper.
As helicopters with water buckets flew overhead, fighting the flames, Harper made sure to thank firefighters for their efforts.
“We know these are tough and sometimes dangerous jobs, and these efforts really are appreciated by everybody,” he said.
Clark also spoke at the event, thanking Harper for his support during and after the fire season.
“This is not a one summer unlike anything else that is going to happen in the future,” said Clark. “This is something I think, sadly, we are going to be seeing more often.”
Clark told reporters she and Wall have asked the federal government to support B.C. and Saskatchewan during wildfire season with an enhanced military presence.
She believes Harper is considering it and will look more into it after the fire season.
“The next step in how to make sure that we prevent fires in the following season, what we do nationally, is a conversation that we need to have after this fire season is over,” she said. “We gotta be on top of this now, and it’s all hands on deck right now.”
The Westside Road fire was 460 hectares in size Thursday night, with approximately 70 homes along Westside Road remaining under an evacuation order.
The fire remained completely uncontained, although no structures were threatened.