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British Columbia's Environment Minister George Heyman says last year delivered the message that the time to address climate change is now.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s environment minister says the province can’t afford to wait any longer to confront climate change after last year’s devastating fires, floods, slides and heat waves.

George Heyman says last year delivered the message that the time to address climate change is now.

He says $2.1 billion in this week’s budget will help in the recovery from floods and fires that hit southern B.C., and will better protect communities from future climate threats.

The Fraser Canyon village of Lytton was largely destroyed in a wildfire last June after record-high temperatures, and severe rainstorms last fall flooded much of the Fraser Valley and caused landslides that severed major rail and highway routes.

B.C.’s budget earmarks $1.5 billion over the next three years to assist ongoing recovery and response efforts, and it includes an additional $1.1-billion contingency fund to support people, businesses and communities hit by the recent disasters.

Prof. Jean Slick, who heads the disaster and emergency management program at Royal Roads University in Victoria, says B.C. is recognizing how climate change is driving a threat that’s facing communities.

She says B.C. must do more than implement recovery plans and focus on taking actions that mitigate climate disasters.

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