2021 BC Wildfire Resources for Small Business

British Columbia has endured a record-breaking wildfire season in 2021. In June, an unprecedented heatwave created the conditions for a wildfire that consumed the town of Lytton. Since then, more than 1.6 million acres have burned – approximately 80 per cent more than what would normally be expected in our annual wildfire season.

Tragically, these fires have driven thousands from their homes, shrouded our province in clouds of smoke, and left countless small businesses picking up the pieces. During this extremely challenging time, there are several resources available to business owners to help manage the day-to-day situation and plan for their rebuild.

Below, we’ve gathered the currently available resources and we will continue adding to this document as further resources come online.

  • Province of BC Resources

    Landlord and Tenant Frequently Asked Questions

    Learn rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants during the 2021 wildfire season with this dedicated guide from the Province of BC.

    Prepared BC: Guide for Tourism Operators

    Learn the steps to take to ensure continuity of your tourism business in times of crisis such as wildfires and other natural hazards.

    Prepared BC: Emergency Preparedness Guide for Small Business

    If you are a small business owner, you have likely invested a significant amount of time, energy and money in your operation. Depending on its size, you may have employees that rely on it for income and stability. Use this guide as a starting point to protect that investment and the people you employ by ensuring your business is prepared to be up and running as soon as possible following any type of emergency or business disruption.

    Prepared BC: Emergency Plan for Small Businesses

    This resource is designed to help small business owners plan and prepare for emergencies that could interrupt operations. Use this template as a starting point and add to it as needed. One simple step today can make a difference in how effectively your business responds to and recovers from a disaster.

    Production Insurance

    Agricultural, livestock and agri-food producers can protect their business against severe market volatility and disaster situations through the Province of BC’s Production Insurance program.

    Agriculture Income Protection (AgriStability)

    AgriStability helps stabilize farm income by managing the risk of large income declines. The program protects agricultural producers against declines in their net farming income due to market conditions, production loss or increased costs of production. Payments are made if a producer’s current year margin falls more than 30% below their reference margin.

    EMBC Wildfire Emergency Feed Program – 2021

    The program is meant to support commercial livestock businesses in the response stage i.e., as they respond to the threats and impacts of wildfire and transition to a revised operational strategy. The program will provide emergency feed support for up to 14 days to facilitate those transitions and/or to continue to respond to wildfire related activities. Extensions will be considered upon request and granted pending review by the Agriculture Program Team.

    Permit Information for Permits, Zoning and Building/Fire Codes

    Suffered damage to your property during the wildfires? Learn about the steps you need to take regarding permits, zoning and building/fire codes. These codes apply to the construction, alteration, repair and demolition of buildings.

    BC Wildfire Dashboard – Live Wildfire Map

    Get up to the minute information on the wildfire situation in your community with BC’s Wildfire Dashboard.

    Emergency Info BC – Emergency Alerts

    Discover the latest on evacuation orders, alerts and supports for evacuees, alongside travel advisories from around the province.

    Emergency Support Services

    If you have been evacuated due to wildfire, register with Emergency Support Services whether or not you need support, so loved ones and communities know where you are and that you are safe.

    Register online or by phone:

    • Evacuee Registration and Assistance online tool: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/
    • Emergency Support Services registration toll-free phone line: 1 800 585-9559
  • Government of Canada Resources

    Advanced Payments Program

    During these difficult times, the Government of Canada has helped eligible farmers with outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) advances (loans) by issuing Stays of Default. These actions ensured eligible farmers had more money on hand when they needed it by providing them with additional time to repay APP advances totaling $178 million.

    AgriRecovery

    The Government of Canada has increased total AgriRecovery funding to up to $500 million to address extraordinary costs faced by producers due to drought and wildfires. This includes initial funding of $100 million announced on August 6, 2021.

    Canada Small Business Financing Program

    This program offers a “loan guarantee program to secure small business loans against inadvertent non-compliance with payment terms for a range of reasons, including disasters. Assets guaranteed include real property improvements, leasehold improvements or the purchase of equipment.” For more information on how this program can help you, call 1-866-959-1699.

    Employment Insurance Work Sharing Program

    If you are faced with having to temporarily lay-off your staff, due to the wildfires, the Employment Insurance Work Sharing Program offers income support to workers who are willing to work a temporary reduced work week when there is a reduction in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program includes special criteria to allow easier access to the Work Sharing Program for business affected by major disaster or public threats.

  • Other Resources and Supports

    Canadian Red Cross – Wildfire Centre

    The Canadian Red Cross are a non-profit with decades of frontline emergency response in our country, and globally through their various international organizations.

    Visit the Canadian Red Cross for information on how to create an emergency plan for Wildfires, and key steps for what to do before, during and after a wildfire.

    FireSmart Canada

    FireSmart Canada leads the development of resources and programs designed to empower the public and increase neighbourhood resilience to wildfire across Canada.

    Fire Smoke Forecast – Firesmoke.ca

    Learn the forecast for air quality and smoke particles in your area on the Fire Smoke website. Data is updated regularly, with forecasts available for the next 48 hours.

    Community FuturesWildfire Supports

    Community Futures British Columbia has launched its 1-800 number to assist businesses affected by wildfires. The toll-free number connects businesses with an advisor who can assess the unique challenges individuals may be facing and helping them to connect them with the appropriate expertise to support business recovery.

    The business support number is: 1-800-670-9058

    As well, the Community Futures Wildfire Business Support webpage can be found here: https://cfwildfire.ca/

    This website includes a variety of resources and supports available to assist with disaster recovery and mitigation, and latest information on wildfire activity in BC.  The Business Continuity Workbook, developed by Community Futures after the 2017 wildfire season, along with the Agriculture Emergency Preparedness Workbook can be found on the website to help businesses prepare in advance of wildfires.

    Community Futures are also providing a free, online workshop outlining the steps businesses can take to prepare for or recover more quickly from disasters: Disaster Readiness 101 covers the seven things your business can do immediately to avoid being caught off guard by an unexpected disaster. Developed by Colin O’Leary, an expert in economic recovery and business planning, the workshop focuses on a number of key lessons learned following the 2017 wildfires.

    Loan appears to be no longer available for 2021. However, there is a new Community Futures resource website for Wildfire Business Support: https://cfwildfire.ca/

    BC Economic Development Association – Wildfire Resources

    Discover a range of curated supports from the BC Economic Development Association. Additionally, as part of their Economic Disaster Resiliency and Recovery Program, the BC Economic Development Association is offering every Indigenous, local and regional government in BC the opportunity to upload your Business License data to our BC BusinessCounts system for free.

    Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses – Wildfire Resources

    Find dedicated resources and supports from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. There are dedicated sections for employers, employees and homeowners.

    Insurance Bureau of Canada – BC Wildfire Information

    According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and their BC Wildfire Resource:

    “Most home and business insurance policies cover fire damage. If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, most homeowner’s and tenant’s insurance policies will provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time.”

    If you’ve been affected by the wildfires, when safe to do so, perform the following steps:

    • Assess and document the damage, and take of affected rooms, goods, machinery
    • List all damaged or destroyed items
    • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties
    • Keep all of the receipts pertaining to the cleanup and living expenses
    • Call your insurance representative and/or company and don`t forget to ask what living expenses you’re entitled to be reimbursed for
    • IBC have also produced a Frequently Asked Questionsdocument, as well as a tip sheet pertaining to Fire Damage to Business.

    Canadian Mental Health Association – Wildfire Resources

    The wildfires don’t just take a financial and environmental toll, they’re also challenging for the mental health of those impacted by them. Find mental health resources to navigate you through this challenging period from the Canadian Mental Health Association.

    BC Hydro – Help for Evacuees

    Residential and commercial customers who are affected by an evacuation order are eligible to receive a credit for the electricity consumed for the duration of the time they’re out of their home, if the order is for five days or longer. We also offer flexible bill payment plans for when you’re able to return home.