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Kenney responds to critics of fire ban and backcountry restrictions

Last Updated Apr 16, 2020 at 11:18 am MST

FILE: The Chuckegg Creek wildfire burns in the High Level Forest Area, to the southwest and west of the town of High Level, Alta. in this photo posted on the Alberta Wildfire Twitter page on Saturday, May 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Twitter, @AlbertaWildfire *MANDATORY CREDIT*

There has been push-back from some Albertans regarding an announcement from the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

Earlier this week, Devin Dreeshan announced further restrictions when it comes to accessing forested areas, as well as the use of off-highway vehicles and a complete fire ban. These measures were introduced along with the addition of 200 firefighters to help combat and prevent wildfires this season.

RELATEDAlberta announces more firefighters, fire bans on provincial land

Failing to comply with the rules will cost you. Violating the fire ban could result in a $600 fine and up to $1200 for defying the off-road restrictions.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) issued a statement.regarding the ban and how it applies to the region.

Regional Fire Chief Jody Butz said the ban is specifically for the forested protection area, and includes the rural communities of the RMWB.

RELATED: RMWB offers clarity on provincial fire ban

Premier Jason Kenney addressed the discontent with some Albertans during the provincial COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

“We faced massive wildfires last year which risked human life, caused an enormous drain on our emergency resources. We had to fly in extra firefighters from all across the world actually, as far away as Australia to cope.”

Kenney added last year’s wildfires, including the one that forced the evacuation of High Level and nearby communities, wreaked havoc on the environment.

“It also created a massive deterioration in air quality for Alberta, just remember where we were last summer. We have to do everything we can to prevent wildfires this spring and summer, more than before.”

The UCP government also announced it’s investing $5 million to hire and train the additional firefighters for the season which began last month.

The new rules and restrictions came into effect on April 15.