Potential Impact of the BC Wildfires

How We Can Help

August 24, 2017

Wildfires throughout British Columbia have an immediate impact for the province’s residents, from unhealthy air quality in Vancouver to lost homes and livelihoods elsewhere. As Canadians across the country donate to charities and other organizations working to help those impacted by the wildfires, it’s important to prepare for the potential national impacts that will likely touch all of our lives.

Wildfires impair British Columbia’s ability to produce its exports, from beef to fine wines. Every cow that doesn’t get enough hay, and every grapevine that burns, reduces Canada’s supply of these goods and increases the cost for everyone. And the impacts can last for years. For example, cattle that are exposed to wildfires can suffer burns, vision and hearing loss, and respiratory damage from smoke inhalation. Like most hooved animals, their feet can also be damaged – an injury that can be fatal and may not be obvious until weeks after the smoke has cleared.

At vineyards and farms throughout the province, the impact can be just as dire. Wildfires of this magnitude often result from conditions that are already detrimental to farms – hot and dry for extended periods. The fire just adds insult to injury, and a lot of it. It’s actually healthy for farmland to be covered in a thin layer of ash, which contains vital nutrients plants need to grow. It’s basically a natural fertilizer. But wildfires as severe as those in British Columbia this summer often deposit thick, suffocating blankets of ash that can damage crops and soil. This is especially true if the fire burns anything man-made, such as plastics.

The economic impacts also extend to other fields, such as tourism. Visitors are less likely to tour a vineyard that’s black and burned, and reduced air quality during wildfires can reduce the number of tourists, the duration of their stay, and the activities they engage in.

These impacts can even hit the market, damaging individual stocks and negatively impacting everything from family estates to pension funds. When managing your wealth, it’s critical to monitor and understand the impact local, national, and global events could have on your portfolio.

The wildfires in British Columbia are a timely reminder of the importance of doing due diligence and getting the qualified support you need to balance a robust, resilient portfolio.

To learn more about the impact of the British Columbia fires and how you can help, click here.

To learn more about The Michael Fahy Group at CIBC Wood Gundy, contact Michael Fahy at 604 691-7207.