New wildfire policy in the works after Brad Wall's trip to northern Saskatchewan
Premier Brad Wall made his first northern stop in Prince Albert
Premier Brad Wall has been making his rounds in northern Saskatchewan this week.
On Thursday, Wall made his first northern stop in Prince Albert with Minister of Environment, Herb Cox, to debrief about the summer wildfires that engulfed the province in fire and smoke.
The premier said it will be like fighting the forest fires this year - they'll make the money available.- Prince Albert mayor, Greg Dionne
According to Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne, the topic of discussion was creating a policy in which fires within 20 kilometres of a community will be fought immediately. However, fires that are not directly threatening a community will be allowed to burn until resources become available.
Other issues raised involved better lines of communication and more training for armed forces.
"So if it's ever required, they can be deployed right away," explained Dionne. "They don't have to be held up at a training session in Prince Albert for a couple of days when they learn the basics of fighting forest fires."
Dionne said Wall is committed to get these new strategies approved and put into place by the coming spring.
"You want to have them in place for next fire season. We've already gone through this one; it's almost over," said Dionne.
Thanks to PA Mayor Greg Dionne for the forest fire debrief meeting today..and for your good ideas for tourism recovery in the north—@PremierBradWall
Discussing the issues of past wildfires and evacuation wasn't a top priority for Dionne. He believes the city of Prince Albert is facing another obstacle: tourism.
"We have a more urgent matter: that we have to get the recovery process going because for half the summer we said, 'Don't go in the north, don't go in the north…'" said Dionne. "We have to help those industries get back on their feet."
According to the city's mayor, northern tourism has taken a huge hit because of the wildfires. This includes businesses involved with fishing and hunting.
"It's important to us that we get the traffic moving again through our community," Dionne said.
Thx Mayor <a href="https://twitter.com/TSierzycki">@TSierzycki</a> for a great day in La Ronge. Helpful feedback on firefighting efforts, lots of optimism in area <a href="http://t.co/sYMpH0fUrC">pic.twitter.com/sYMpH0fUrC</a>—@PremierBradWall