reduce wildfire risk

SRD seeking grant to help reduce wildfire risk in rural areas

This news bulletin was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) may be on its way to acquiring a $244,000 grant to reduce wildfire risk in rural areas. Close to $76,000 of this could go to a variety of projects on Cortes Island, more than $52,000 to Quadra and Read Islands and more than $50,000 each to Electoral Area’s A and D. The Electoral Areas Services Committee passed a recommendation that the SRD send application to 2021 Community Resiliency Investment grant program

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Planning to reduce wildfire risks

100% of the funding would come from Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

As SRD Protective Services Coordinator Shaun Koopman points out, this year’s grant differs from previous years in that each electoral area would receive $50,000 in base funding.

A significant portion of this funding will go to updating or developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

“The Union of BC Municipalities considers any plan more than five year’s old to be pretty much null and void,” explained Koopman.

This would apply to all four rural areas in the SRD.

The SRD would also like to develop fuel management prescriptions that set out:

  • specific and measurable targets to reduce potential fuel for wildfires
  • site specific considerations;
  • align “with other legal, resource management and non-statutory objectives including First Nation consultation requirements.”

The remaining funds would go to FireSmart assessments around buildings and “removing natural wood debris from properties who have placed this debris at the end of their driveway.”

Photo above – Cortes Island forest view by Roy L Hales

Discussion

During the discussion, Regional Director Brenda Leigh (Black Creek – Buttle Lake) objected to $9,500 proposed for a pamphlet on FireSmarting, largely based on urban Campbell River rather than her area, when the Black Creek Oyster Bay Fire Department has already done this work.

Leigh added that from her experience a more appropriate Area D pamphlet would cost about $2,500 and “We need to look at resources that are available.”

Koopman responded that the SRD could draw up a pamphlet more specific to Black Creek.

Cortes Island Regional Director Noba Anderson said that for the most part she would echo a lot of what Leigh said and asked, “has there ever been consideration of prescribed burns?”

Koopman said this could be considered under the grant, but it is something that BC Wildfires has been carrying out more in the Interior.

“That is something we could consider in the tenure if we get the grant. Asking the consultant for each of these specific landscapes, what would be more appropriate: fuel removal or a prescribed burn in the area.”

Regional Director Gerald Whalley (Sayward to Kyuquot/Nootka) said that aside from the SRD properties mentioned, the grant was not applicable to Area A.

Regional Director Jim Abram ( Discovery Islands and Mainland Inlets) pointed out that Koopman can still tweak the application, they should approve the concept.

He added, “This is 100% money folks.”

Nootka Sound by Tim Gage via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

The Vote

Director Anderson moved, “that the Committee recommend that an application to the 2021 Community Resiliency Investment grant program be submitted for FireSmart activities in the electoral areas, and that Regional District commit to overall grant management if the application is successful.”

“I’ll second it, begrudgingly,” said Whalley.

The motion carried.

Cortes Island (Area B) Benefits

  • Obtain fuel management for 11 hectares of Crown land in Carrington Bay – $7,700
  • a similar program for 11 hectares in Squirrel Cove – $7,700
  • and 5 hectares adjacent to the Cortes Island Recycling Centre – $3,500
  • a 10 hectare FireSmart education area in the Regional Park at Hank’s Beach – $7,000
  • Assessment of water supplies available for wildfire response – $18,000
  • Develop FireSmart Neighbourhood Plans – $15,000
  • Curbside wood debris chipping – $14,000
  • Incident Command System 100 and Fire Entrapment Avoidance & Safety training for the Cortes Island Fire Department

“It is a really sweet package for Cortes, I am glad that the committee supported it,” said Anderson. 

Quadra Island by Andrea_44 via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Other Discovery Island (Area C) Benefits

  • fuel management for 3 hectares of Crown land next to the Old Surge Store on Read Island – $2,100
  • Quadra Island’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan – $24,000
  • Curbside wood debris chipping for Quadra residents – $17,000
  • Develop FireSmart Neighbourhood Plans for North Quadra Island and the Outer Discovery Islands- $9,000

Benefits for Area A

  • Obtain fuel management proscription for 0.5 hectares of Regional forest on Walters Island (beside Kyuquot) – $350.
  • similar grant for 0.5 hectares of Regional forest beside Sayward Valley Firehall – $350
  • Develop FireSmart Plan for Walter’s Island Community Centre- $5,000
  • Develop FireSmart Plan for Sayward Valley Firehall – $3,000
  • Curbside wood debris chipping for Sayward valley and North Campbell River – $27,000
  • Assessment of water supplies available for wildfire response – $15,000
Rusted old truck in Sayward by Tim Gage via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Benefits for Area D

  • Area D’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan – $24,000
  • Curbside wood debris chipping – $26,000

Going Forward

This matter will go before the SRD Board at their October 7th meeting.

The Union of BC Municipalities deadline for applications is October 9, 2020.

Associated articles on Cortes Currents

Existing SRD Community Wildfire Protection Plans

Top photo credit: Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island by David Stanley via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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