OTTAWA – The latest federal government forecast says Canada’s already unprecedented 2023 wildfire season could continue late into the fall or winter.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says there is potential for increased wildland fire activity from eastern Alberta through to central Ontario at least until the end of this month, while fires in B.C. and the Northwest Territories will continue to smoulder.
Although fall brings cooler nights and fewer lightning storms, a government statement says ongoing warm and dry weather could contribute to new fire starts, and mean some existing large fires could remain active for months.
Wilkinson also announced $65 million in federal funding for wildfire equipment and other supports for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Northwest Territories.
He says B.C. and the Northwest Territories have signed deals to receive their full allotments under Ottawa’s wildfire and equipment fund, amounting to $28.5 million for the territory and $32 million for B.C.
The statement says the Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate fund will provide $256 million to provinces and territories through to 2027.
The six newly announced agreements are the first under the program, with Wilkinson saying the cash will be used for life-saving equipment and important contracting.
“This means more resources and more boots on the ground in our fight against these intense and dangerous wildfires,” Wilkinson says in the statement.
The Natural Resources Canada fund allows provinces and territories to cost-share investments for equipment, such as vehicles, mobile units, avionics parts and upgrades, hoses, pumps, enhanced communications equipment, the repair of aging equipment and training, the government statement says.
Feature image: The McDougall Creek wildfire burns on the mountainside above a lakefront home, in West Kelowna, B.C., on Friday, August 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck