The provincial government has announced a new emergency grant for small businesses, First Nations and non-profits impacted by the B.C. wildfires.

The $1,500 emergency grant — which will be administered by the Canadian Red Cross — is for eligible parties located in areas under evacuation order or alert due to wildfire and those located in areas affected by the following major highway closures:

  • Highway 20.
  • Highway 97, south of Prince George to areas covered by evacuation alerts.
  • Highway 26 to Barkerville.
  • Eastern Cariboo Regional District communities of Horsefly and Likely.

Great economic loss

Businesses in British Columbia's wildfire-ravaged Cariboo region have have already lost thousands of dollars since wildfire season began, according to Claudia Blair, the executive director of the Williams Lake Visitor Centre.

In 31 years, she says she's never seen such an economic downturn where mills and stores have been forced to close temporarily and the livestock industry has been decimated.

After the closure of much of the Cariboo backcountry during peak tourism season, Blair says businesses in the region are bracing for even more economic hardship.

Eligibility criteria

The grant is specifically for small businesses, (including sole proprietors, partnerships, franchises), non-profit organizations and First Nations businesses and members whose livelihood is based on cultural practices.

Applicants must have:

  • 50 employees or less.
  • Been in operation on or before July 7, 2017.
  • Been financially impacted as a result of the 2017 B.C. wildfires.
  • A net income of less than $250,000 per year.
  • Resumed or are intending to resume operations as soon as possible.

Interested parties can apply online or call the Red Cross Support to Small Business Help Line at t 1-855-999-3345 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday to Friday.

With files from the Canadian Press