Stay and Defend Policy

Statute Changes


NCLGA Executive Recommendation: No Recommendation | Endorsed by the NCLGA and UBCM Memberships


Whereas wildfire events are increasing in frequency, intensity, and duration, and local governments and the BC Wildfire Service are increasingly required to deal with the issues created by residents who stay within an evacuation order area to defend their property and farmers who stay to look after livestock sheltering in place;

And whereas the Emergency Program Act and the British Columbia Emergency Management System do not address, recognize, or provide direction regarding the management of issues created by persons choosing to stay and defend their property from wildfire:

Therefore be it resolved that the Province work with local governments to develop policy and best practices regarding stay and defend issues with consideration given to formally recognizing a person’s right to stay and defend their property from wildfire.


The Resolutions Committee advises that the UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution asking the Province to work with local governments to develop a policy and best practices related to people who choose to remain in evacuated areas for the purpose of defending their properties from natural disasters.

In 2016, as part of its work to amend the Emergency Program Act, the provincial government released "Prepared and Resilient: A Discussion Paper on the Legislative Framework for Emergency Management in British Columbia." The discussion paper contained a number of policy proposals, including one which sought to clarify policy around those who choose not to comply with evacuation orders, by providing police the authority to apprehend these individuals. None of the policy proposals contained within the discussion paper were implemented. The Province has recently indicated that it would like to restart its work to amend and modernize the Act. However, as of March 2019, the Province has yet to introduce any amendments to the Act.

See also resolution R14

North Central Local Government Association