West Kelowna  

Get tough on fire starters

Premier Christy Clark is in favour of a review of penalties for people who carelessly start forest fires.

Clark made the comment Wednesday morning while visiting the Shelter Cover wildfire on the northern edge of her Westside-Kelowna riding.

While the fire was started as a result of a lightning strike, Clark was asked about the large number of fires that have started as a result of discarded cigarettes or other careless behaviour.

And, she didn't just touch on people tossing cigarette butts from car windows.

"That's throwing a cigarette out the window, sparking your car with a hot muffler on dry grass, leaving a campfire burning, sparks from a chainsaw. All of those things ... I think we need to think about stiffer penalties for people," said Clark.

"People need to think hard about their behaviour and the impact it would have had. Imagine if there had been 400 fewer fires this year. How much more timber would we have saved, how many more jobs would we have saved, how many people would have gone without having their homes threatened."

Clark said people who don't take personal responsibility need to face tougher penalties.

Some have suggested taking away vehicles if a driver throws a lit cigarette out the window.

"We have to have a discussion with British Columbians about that.

"There are enough citizens who are mad enough about those who are not responsible, that they are suggesting some pretty severe solutions. We are going to bring in some tough penalties for those."

Clark added fines are handed out to people who speed and people who litter but, at the moment she said the penalties for carelessness with fire are too small.

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