VANCOUVER – The federal government is providing $870 million to support recovery efforts after destructive flooding in British Columbia last November, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair announced Monday.
The money is the first installment of a commitment Ottawa made in the immediate aftermath of the severe weather, and more will come, he said.
“It’s important to get the money out as quickly as possible, so that rebuilding can start in earnest and we can help those communities … get back to a sense of normalcy,” Blair told a news conference.
His comments came after the fifth and final meeting of a committee made up of British Columbia and federal ministers on disaster response and climate resilience.
Funds are distributed through the disaster financial assistance program.
British Columbia requested about $5 billion to help rebuild after the disaster through the program, and the province’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said accessing the money can take time, so the payment advance is important.
He said much of the cash will go toward rebuilding infrastructure, both public and private, that was damaged when record rains hit southern BC last November.
The so-called atmospheric river caused widespread flooding and landslides that inundated farmland and washed away sections of several major highways.
The money will be used to make sure BC is rebuilding infrastructure that is more resilient to the effects of climate change for years to come, Farnworth said.
For example, he said, that means making sure the culverts along the Coquihalla highway are built to handle the volume of water that flowed in last fall.
It’s an ongoing process to determine the full costs of recovery and reconstruction from flooding and mudslides, with on-the-ground assessments and significant work to repair bridges and roads still ongoing, Farnworth added.
“While the damage assessment is taking place, while the repair work is taking place, while the recovery is taking place, we work with the federal government, giving them the data and information they need to determine the exact costs that they incur. the province,” he said.
Both BC and the federal government understood the scope of the disaster and the significant costs early on, Farnworth said.
Blair noted that the advance payment is in addition to $200 million in federal funding announced in June to support recovery efforts from last summer’s severe wildfires.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 18, 2022.