Alberta investing more in wildfire preparations

By Adam Ziccarelli

A wildfire is still burning in the middle of winter in northern Alberta, and experts fear it’s only going to get worse in the one-two punch of drought and summer heat.

Because of that, the provincial government is spending an extra $50 million on wildfire preparations as the province gets ready to take on another potentially long and hot season.

“I think were in good shape moving into this year,” explained Todd Loewen, minister of forestry and parks.

The extra money will go to night vision goggles for helicopter pilots, AI technology to determine fire movement, more helicopters in the air, and more boots on the ground with new recruits.

“Before the last fire season ended we tried to recruit as many of our experienced wildfire firefighters to bring them back for this coming year from last year.”

Roughly $2 billion has been allocated by the provincial government to the contingency fund, which goes to fighting the fires. The province spent $800 million last year, but there is a potential drought looming in the province.

“We’re looking at those weather patterns and how they’re going to affect agriculture use of water, residential use of water. So, I think again with $2 billion, were going into this season in good shape that way,” explained Loewen.

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