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Alberta Wildfire announces province-wide fire bans, increased fines

Last Updated Apr 15, 2020 at 11:18 am MDT

PHOTO. Supplied: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Alberta Wildfire is working on reducing spring wildfires and protecting municipalities.

The Alberta government has announced several actions, including a fire ban and a recreational Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) ban in all provincial parks and protected areas effective April 15.

Alberta’s Forest Protection Area covers about 60 per cent of the province, most of the northern half and the western border, excluding federal parks.

Any fire that uses a solid form of fuel such as charcoal or wood falls under the fire ban.

It will also invest an additional $5 million to hire and train 200 high-quality firefighters to help with fire suppression.

More than 800 seasonal firefighters will join 370 full-time staff.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Devin Dreeshen said in a statement that the province will be well prepared for multiple emergencies at the same time, including COVID-19.

“With Alberta’s wildfire season matching with the expected peak of COVID-19, we have to take extra precautions to ensure our response efforts are well-funded and planned out. This spring, we may find ourselves facing multiple disasters at once.”

To date, a fire ban is not in place within the urban service area of Fort McMurray, where the RMWB has authority.

READ MORE: RMWB reacts to provincial fire ban

Increased Fines

On top of these measures, the province has also doubled fines from $300 to $600 for non-compliance with the fire ban.

The fine for non-compliance with an OHV restriction will jump from $600 to $1,200. Those found to be violating the ban may also have to go to court and may receive a fine of up to $100,000.

Those caught violating the bans could also be held liable for costs associated with fighting a wildfire.

Last year, 71 per cent of wildfires were started by people.

FireSmart will receive a boost in funding of up to $20 million to support vegetation management in the province.