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Carter’s Law aims to reduce health risks of B.C. wildfire smoke

New law in memory of B.C. Carter Vigh introduced to protect seniors, those with respiratory issues
100 Mile House residents James Vigh (left), Amber Vigh, Daxton Vigh and Cadence Vigh met B.C. United leader Kevin Falcon on Monday, May 13 in Victoria. The Vighs were in Victoria to attend the proposal of Carter’s Law, a law named for Carter Vigh who passed away suddenly at the age of nine last summer from an asthma attack caused by wildfire smoke inhalation. (Photo submitted)

On Monday, May 13 Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson introduced Carter’s Law to the B.C. legislature.

Named for Carter Vigh, the 100 Mile House youth who passed away last summer due to an asthma attack induced by wildfire smoke, Carter’s Law seeks to amend the B.C. Wildfire Act and encourage government to consider health concerns caused by the way they manage wildfires.

“There have been times (lately) where we have incredibly high particulate levels in the air. The smoke can be so thick many of us can’t see the end of our driveways,” Doerkson explained. “We know that Carter lost his life while having an asthma attack he couldn’t recover from and it happened partially because of the wildfire smoke in the air that day.”

Doerkson said many throughout B.C. have asthma or other health concerns that wildfire smoke can impact. He added he has received calls from senior citizens complaining they can’t breathe. Some have gone as far as duct-taping their windows to seal the smoke out.

Carter’s Law would focus on safeguarding vulnerable populations with respiratory conditions. Doerkson said it will encourage B.C. Wildfire to not let wildfires burn for extended periods of time that they could extinguish. During summers like 2023 when more than 200 fires were burning across the province at some points, he said reducing the amount of smoke in an area in any way is important.

“‘Carter’s Law’ isn’t just a piece of legislation; it’s a promise to our community to actively protect those most at risk — our children and the elderly — by prioritizing health considerations in wildfire smoke response,” Doerkson explained. “This bill represents a heartfelt commitment to helping improve air quality management and safeguarding public health during the devastating wildfire seasons.”

Watching from the gallery while Doerkson presented the bill was the entire Vigh family. Carter’s mother Amber Vigh said the trip was a bit of a whirlwind for her family who got a tour of parliament and met with B.C. United leader Kevin Falcon and speaker of the house Raj Chouhan.

Vigh said the law is just the latest in a list of incredible things happening in her son’s name. She appreciates Doerkson naming the amendment for Carter and shining a light on his story.

“Carter’s Story is going so far and changing lives in so many different ways, it’s incredible,” Vigh said. “I’m super proud we’ve done as much as we have in the last 10 months and that Carter’s story has such a reach.”

Vigh supports the contents of the bill. If anything she sees Carter’s Law as an important first step in protecting people like her son from poor air quality.

“It’s just not the flames (of wildfires) that wreak havoc on our province. Even if the fire is burning 100 or 200 kilometres away from any infrastructure or human life, the smoke produced by these fires is travelling hundreds, even thousands, of kilometres and killing people,” Vigh said. “I think there’s a lot that has to change in how we deal with forest fires and what’s put into fighting them, but I think Carter’s Law is a huge step in the right direction.”

Doerkson said he doesn’t anticipate any opposition from the government on the contents of Carter’s Law. If all goes well he said the bill could be voted into law during the fall legislature session, just before the anticipated provincial election.

“It will go on the order paper and then it will be up to the government to call it forward (for a vote). Sadly I don’t have control of that and of course, there is an election coming,” Doerkson said.

“(Presenting the bill) was an opportunity for me to explain to the legislature what I’m trying to achieve with this and an opportunity to share Carter’s story on a provincial scale.”

READ ALSO: 100 Mile House’s Carter Vigh still ‘moving mountains’ in B.C.

READ ALSO: 100 Mile House boy, 9, with asthma dies amid wildfire season; BC Coroner investigating

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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