The Kimberley Fire Department is applying for over $1 million in grant funding under the Community Resiliency Investment Program to support proposed fuels management activities in five different areas of the city.
At a regular Council meeting on Monday, Council approved the application after discussing the details with Fire Chief Rick Prasad and Deputy Chief John Adolphe.
Prasad says continued fuel management activities will increase community resiliency to the threat of wildfire, and that the program is quite “robust and ambitious”.
The five different areas include two different sections of the Kimberley Nature Park, Myrtle Mountain, The Kimberley Nordic Area and Forest Crowne.
“[These] five distinct units along the west flank of the City require treatment,” said Prasad. “These units represent high to extreme fire threat class ratings based on assessments.”
He adds that all of the treatment units lie in the path of most historical wildfires.
“The community is upslope and downwind of these units. Fire behaviour exhibited in recent fires, such as in the Meachen Creek drainage, suggest that fire originating in that area and burning under sub-extreme conditions could threaten the community in a very short time frame,” Prasad explained.
The goal is to treat these areas within a three year time period at a cost of $1,823,695, which, if approved, would be covered entirely by the program. The deadline to apply is Dec. 7, 2018.
The main focus will be controlled burning, which Prasad says is the most effective way to mitigate risks. He adds that there will be thinning and other tasks conducted as well.
In terms of what this means for fire interface, Prasad says it’s a “large amount”.
“It’s probably 30 per cent of what I wish we could have done tomorrow, but this is a good chunk,” he said.
Councillor Kent Goodwin explained that local groups and stakeholders will be involved in the process if the program is approved.
“The previous program required you to put together detailed prescriptions in order to apply,” Goodwin explained. “The nature of this program is not to have all that detail upfront. Should the project go ahead, it will be discussed. There will be consultation and more details of how the work will be done, with input from the different groups involved in managing the land.”
Councillor Darryl Oakley brought up the Lois Creek area as well.
“This is a whopper of a project with a significant impact on the Nature Park,” Oakley said. “It makes me think of the Lois Creek Trails, where the City owns a piece of land, then it goes to Teck and then it’s Crowne Land. That area is a pretty significant risk, but there are a lot of different groups involved. It’s definitely of concern, there’s lots of fuel out there.”
Prasad says the department is currently trying to figure out how to work Lois Creek into their plans and create priorities around the area.
“We’d like to test the water on this. The grant application is for three years, so if they give it to us, we can come back next year and look at other areas at that time. For now we need to get something substantial on the books,” Prasad said, adding that they are simultaneously working on the Fire Smart program.
“We’ll talk with groups like the Nature Park Society; put out a call and ask the community to come to us with their ideas,” he said. “We’re putting together everyone’s ideas into a consolidated plan.”