Wildfires Having Economic Consequences
Quesnel, B.C. – While the Cariboo wildfires are having serious economic implications for the evacuated towns of 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, Quesnel is still feeling the effects too.
“Yeah, absolutely,” says Mayor Bob Simpson. “And the economic implications of this are only going to deepen as the situation continues to evolve. So, we’ve had the festival cancellations (Billy Barker Days and Skyfest), that of course is adding to the loss of tourism.”
He says local businesses “are inventoried up” – noting many of those, particularly the independent operators, are cash-strapped.
“Their cash is now going into inventory with no customers to purchase. So, we’re tracking that very closely.”
Simpson says, “the second wave of economic impact” is also settling in.
“The log supply that’s being compromised by the fires. We’ve had reports of decked logs – so harvested logs have been decked, ready to be picked up and those are burnt up,” he says.
“C & C Wood Products – one of our small sawmill and value-added plants – they’ve run out of logs. We’re also hearing rumblings that Tolko is getting very short on logs.”
Simpson expects the economic impacts “will only deepen” and as a result he’s already had conversations with the incoming NDP government.
“We need to have a sense of what some of the support mechanisms are going to be now. This isn’t a wait until this is over and debrief. We need to start getting some of the programs in place right away because the economic impact is now – not in the future.”
He adds it’s “impossible” to put a dollar figure on what the economic impact has been so far.
“And it’s not the focus of where we’re at just now, the focus is getting fires out, getting people back to their homes, assessing the damage.”
Simpson also concedes his communities challenges don’t come close to what neighbouring communities to the south are dealing with.
“I want to state we’re very fortunate. Quesnel’s not under an evacuation order or alert. We don’t have closed businesses like 100 Mile House and Williams Lake do. So, we are of an order magnitude significantly less than those two communities.”