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Province went over budget fighting summer forest fires

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The province says it spent more money than it budgeted to fight forest fires this summer, and that’s partly to blame for BC’s shrinking budget surplus.

They overspent by $71-million, even though this season wasn’t considered to be worse than average.

This year $63-million was budgeted and $125-million was spent, according to the BC Forest Service.

The numbers were similar for 2012’s forest fire season.

NDP House Leader John Horgan argues the Liberals wanted to give the impression of a balance so badly.

“Where I think the government lost their way this time was that in their budgeting desire to give the impression of a balance, it made them underestimate their contingencies, it made them underestimate their forecasting allowances and now they are paying the price on the firefighting side.”

Horgan claims every year the province underestimates the cost of fighting forest fires.

“They need a line-item in the budget and they pick a number, they don’t know what the season is going to be like.”

The province claims if it doesn’t under estimate, and in turn doesn’t spent the full amount, the money becomes no longer accessible.

BC’s new overall budget forecast calls for a $136-million surplus, which is $17-million less than predicted in June.