Wildfires in British Columbia

Aug 30, 2021

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Posted by
Matt Mayers
Policy Analyst

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As of August 26 there were nearly 243 wildfires in BC, impacting over 3,700 properties with evacuation orders. According to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these sorts of extreme weather events are likely to become more severe in the future. If current greenhouse gas emission levels remain the same, global temperatures are likely to increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. Even if countries meet their Paris Agreement targets, temperatures are still expected to increase.

Even as the current wildfire season winds down in coming weeks, issues with insurance remain for potential homebuyers. Mortgage companies may not fund mortgages for homes that have not secured insurance. REALTORS® help their clients by reminding them of the importance of home insurance year-round and when buying or selling a home. Realtors remind buyers of the importance of including an insurance clause in their offer of purchase. Securing home insurance early in the sales process can help mitigate these sales completion risks, as buyers may find it more difficult to secure insurance during a wildfire season, causing delays to the sale. Realtors help sellers by advising them to wait to cancel their home insurance until after a deal is closed so that they can remain protected in case the deal is delayed or collapsed.

Wildfires are a reminder for homeowners to better understand risks and improve adaptation and mitigation measures for themselves and their communities. Homeowners can become more resilient to wildfires by incorporating the BC Government's FireSmart disciplines to reduce the risk to life and property.

BCREA is advocating for continued improvements to buildings' energy improvements through more long-term, widespread programs to help property owners voluntarily retrofit existing buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains a top priority to avoid the most extreme forecasts from becoming a reality, British Columbians need to also work towards improving mitigation of the extreme weather events that are all but certain to be coming.

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