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October 27, 2017 11:50 pm

Province Jacks Up Fines for Wildfire Related Offences

Thursday, March 10, 2016 @ 12:52 PM

Prince George, B.C.- In less than a month, the new  wildfire season will officially start,  and  fines for activities that increase fire risk or  hamper  firefighting efforts  in BC are being boosted.

Legislation  has been introduced in the BC Legislature that will make  wildfire related fines in this province among the  highest in the country.

For example, failing to comply with a fire restriction  had a fine of $345.  That fine is being more than tripled to $1,150.00.  That is just one of a total of 26 fines under  the Wildfire At and Wildfire Regulation  which have been  boosted.

On average, 30  to 40% of wildfires  in B.C. are human caused.  Last year,  wildfires in the province burned more than 283,400 hectares and cost the Province more than $278 million dollars to  battle.

“We need to have all the tools in the tool box to  help reduce  those numbers” says Minister of  Forests Steve Thomson.

One of the changes to the legislation  covers ‘interference’.  Last year,  there was at least once incident in which drones  hampered  fire suppression because  water bombers cannot  fly  if  there  is a drone in the  same airspace. “We don’t regulate drones”  says Minister Thomson, “But with the changes  we made around ‘interference’  if it interferes , there is an ability to levy  fines for interference   the same as you would have  for water craft that interfere with fire fighting activity, the same you would have  with people who may  get in the way  on roads and access. The main provision  we have changed in the legislation  is that before, the requirement was you had to prove the  interference was intentional.  The  change we’ve made  is a change  of the definition  to  simply interference, now  we don’t have to go through the steps of  proving that it was intentional, now it’s just  interference and that, I think,will be an additional  deterent  and help support our fire fighting efforts.”

But new fines are only as good as the enforcement  “We’re going to be focusing on increased efforts on enforcement in the upcoming season” says Minister Thomson.  There will also be lots of education and awareness,  but  will there be added bodies?  The short answer is no  ” We are going to  have increased focus as we go into the season” says Thomson who points out that Solicitor General Mike Morris  who prepared the report  for the  had been tasked with reviewing all the  fines  and  his report suggested utilizing auxiliary personnel  says Thomson “We’ll be looking at  that recommendation as we go into the season”.

The Wildfire  Service is  getting ready for the new season says Thomson  “They’ve been preparing, staffing up and training,  they do a great job.  It’s all weather dependent,  but we”ll  be ready and the public needs to   know we will have the resources available to address  whatever the season sends us.”




“No more bodies” really bugs me. Same as Conservation officers for poaching, no more bodies hence a lack of enforcement period.
Imagine Morris is doing the head bang thang.

    I endorse your comment. No fines will be levied if there are no people to observe, record and report the of fence. Laws and regulations need to be enforced. People do the enforcing, signs and booklets full of regulations make those who read them aware, but no sign is going to submit evidence to a crown prosecutor.

      Of fence = offence

these drones are getting to be more than a nuisance especially In the case of interference with aircraft. Give a good duck/goose hunter the authority to get some practice on these drones.

Drones, Phones, SUV’s, Snowmobiles, Boats, are inanimate objects. Its the operators that are the problem.

I doubt if fines will make much difference. As long as this Government tries to maintain law and order by assessing fines, and skirting the judicial system, and not using incarceration for repeat offenders, they will continue to have problems.

At some point the Government itself becomes part of the problem, because fines are in effect condoning bad behavior. The message is, is that if you break the law you can buy your way out. At one time it was called bribery. Now its called fines.

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