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New B.C. forestry minister coming this weekend

British Columbia's new forests minister, Doug Donaldson, is making his way to Prince George this weekend. "As the new minister, part of my mandate and responsibility is wildfire service.
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British Columbia's new forests minister, Doug Donaldson, is making his way to Prince George this weekend.

"As the new minister, part of my mandate and responsibility is wildfire service. In Prince George, I will be visiting evacuees and the Red Cross. I will also be meeting with the mayor, the minister of public safety and with the cultural and defence ministers," Donaldson said.

"We want to focus our attention to the highest level and this has been a priority since my first meeting in the cabinet."

The Stikine MLA was given the portfolio of forests by Premier John Horgan after the NDP government was sworn in on Tuesday in Victoria.

The state of emergency, which would have been lifted on Friday, was extended another two weeks after briefings were considered from wildfire firefighters and first responders.

On Wednesday, Horgan also increased funds for communities, from $600 per household to another $600 for every 14 days people are out of their homes.

"This is an unprecedented situation because these people might be out of their homes longer and we want to make sure they have what they need," Donaldson said.

Also, since a new cabinet was chosen, Donaldson became one of six to join a task force which will monitor the wildfire situation closely.

"And it's also important to me to keep good communication lines open with the former minister, John Rustad. We have both agreed to address this situation. This is people's lives and property. And this is our focus."

There are 9,300 registered evacuees in Prince George and about 1,000 are living in RVs with the majority of evacuees staying in campgrounds and various other locations including parking lots at CN Centre, CNC and the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.

"Our thoughts are with the evacuees, emergency first responders and firefighters," Donaldson said. "People are facing a dire situation. We would like to thank the people of Prince George for their generosity and kindness. I am so proud of B.C. And this is true northern spirit."