The B.C. government has reopened its Disaster Financial Assistance program for applications until July 27 with rule changes that will allow more farmers, businesses and rental unit owners to apply.
The changes include allowing small business owners to qualify for help after last November’s devastating floods if they can show $10,000 in revenue from the operation. Up to April 28, they needed to show that at least 50 per cent of their total income came from the business. The maximum annual revenue for all small businesses is increased from $1 million to $2 million.
The change also allows more rental unit owners to qualify, because their rental income didn’t meet the 50 per cent threshold.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said changes will also mean the province picking up more of local government costs for infrastructure repairs, with the local portion capped at five to 10 per cent rather than 20. Some funds will be provided up front to do the work rather than requiring municipalities to complete projects before applying.
“The catastrophic flooding in November 2021 highlighted the limitations of our Disaster Financial Assistance program, and given the scale of the disaster, we need to make changes quickly,” Farnworth said April 28. “These changes will help ensure people, First Nations and local governments impacted by severe flooding aren’t facing insurmountable costs, and will improve the program so we can respond faster next time and provide more support to those impacted.”
Emergency Management B.C. has already received more than 2,200 applications for assistance from individuals, small businesses, farms, charitable organizations and local governments, and has paid out $5.3 million. Including washed out highways and flooding in communities including Abbotsford and the Eastern Fraser Valley, Princeton and Merritt, the province estimates that recovering from last November’s floods will cost $4 billion.