Skip to main content

Tensions flare over evacuation plans if fire sparks on Prince Edward Island

With woods filled with deadfall after post-tropical storm Fiona and forest fires around our region, there is some anxiety on Prince Edward Island.

Despite no fires in the province yet, tensions have flared up in P.E.I.’s legislature.

Much of the last week has been dominated by the opposition Liberal Party’s demands for a detailed plan from government if the worst were to happen. At times, the discussion got heated.

The message from the opposition Liberals was clear -- not enough is being done to prepare for the chance of wildfires in the province.

Justice and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson tabled two documents Thursday in response to the questions around the P.E.I. EMO event checklist (Evacuation and all Hazards Emergency Plan), which hasn't been updated since July 2021.

“If they think that’s going to put Islanders’ minds at ease, it’s a far stretch from that,” said interim Liberal Leader Hal Perry.

Both are generic emergency response documents that do not specify potential risks of wildfire.

One point of contention was what would happen in unincorporated areas of P.E.I. The checklist says municipalities take the lead in evacuations, but the Minister said Friday that, in unincorporated areas, first responders, namely local fire departments and police, are in charge.

“We rely so much on our first responders. They’re trained to deal with evacuations,” said Thompson. “They’re the ones we trust in this, and Islanders trust.”

Thompson said evacuation plans cannot be too detailed because they need flexibility to respond to conditions on the ground.

With a burn ban still in place across the entire province, the minister said enforcement officers have responded to four fires, one of which has resulted in a fine, and three which are still under investigation. Top Stories

Stay Connected