British Columbia

B.C. balances budget despite $380M bill for forest fires

B.C.'s bill for fighting forest fires this summer is expected to hit $380 million by the time the season is over, but the province has still been able to balance its budget, Finance Minister Mike de Jong has revealed.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says income and property transfer tax revenue higher than forecast

The B.C. government ran up an extra $317 million fighting forest fires this past summer. (BC Wildfire Service/Reuters)

B.C.'s bill for fighting forest fires this summer is expected to hit $380 million by the time the season is over, but the province has still been able to balance its budget, Finance Minister Mike de Jong has revealed.

The province had originally budgeted $63 million to fight forest fires for the season, based on the ten-year-average, but the bill is expected to be $317 million higher than expected because of the exceptionally dry summer this year.

On the plus side of the ledger, the extra cost for fires was offset by higher-than-expected government revenue from personal and corporate income tax ($751 million) and property transfer taxes ($353 million) from surging real estate sales, said de Jong.

Revenue from ICBC and natural resources were also lower than originally forecast. The new figures are part of the government's first quarter review, issued Tuesday morning in Victoria.

De Jong said by the end of the 2015/16 financial year, the province is forecast to have a $277 million surplus, down only $7 million from the previous estimate.

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