For immediate release
November 17, 2021
VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General declared a provincial state of emergency in response to the flooding on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the BC Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley has issued the following statement:
“Calling this state of emergency is a necessary but overdue step to better respond to the flooding that has resulted in loss of life, devastation in communities, and displacement of thousands of British Columbians. This call should have been made days ago, when the effects of the rainfall were beginning to be made clear, to help British Columbians prepare and change their travel plans. While local communities have had to deal with the impact of this emergency, a disaster of this scale is clearly a province-wide emergency.
“B.C. is reported to be the only province in Canada to have not used our emergency alert system. That very system was meant to be tested today, but delayed due to the genuine emergency. This provincial government must learn from this year’s failures to warn the public in cases of extreme weather, and they must become more proactive in communicating risks to health, safety, and infrastructure due to climate change.
“The impacts of climate change are going to continue to accelerate and we must get out of the reactive mode that this government has adopted. Emergency preparedness must become a top priority. The government needs to work with First Nations and local governments to ensure better communications, more proactive responses and honest assessment of how to create resiliency. British Columbians deserve to know that the government has a plan, what that plan is, and that it is doing everything possible to mitigate the effects of these escalating climate disasters.
“This majority government has brought forward no legislation related to climate change or emergency preparedness. The 2021 budget introduced this spring had only passing references to climate change. It’s evident from their priorities this legislative session these major problems are not top of mind. Following the delayed response to this summer’s devastating heat dome, this is a very worrying pattern. I’m increasingly concerned that they fail to grasp the scale of action required to protect British Columbians and their livelihoods.
“On Tuesday in Question Period I pointed out a few measures other governments have taken to keep people safe. We saw the community of Abbotsford come together to prevent the worst case scenario of flooding at the Barrowtown Pump station. The province should be providing leadership and resources to empower every community across B.C. to shore up their local resiliency before and during crises.”
Press Secretary, B.C. Green Caucus
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