Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file

Kimberley has money to spend on wildfire mitigation, but not enough time to spend it

Mayor McCormick asks UBCM for extension

The City of Kimberley has been very fortunate in securing funding for treating wildfire hazards in and around the city.

The problem right now is that there is a pot of money still to be used for this work, but there is not enough time to do all the work before the deadline to spend the money runs out.

This has led Mayor Don McCormick to write to the Union of B.C. Municipalities — the source of the funding — to ask for an extension of funded 2019 projects to the fall of 2023.

McCormick says that a number of issues have led to the city being unable to complete the projects within the window.

“We rely on the use of prescribed fire, in addition to manual and mechanical thinning, to meet our wildfire hazard reduction objectives. Prescribed burning is constrained by weather and the availability of trained and skilled personnel and some special equipment. Starting in the spring of 2019 we have encountered numerous obstacles that have limited our use of this important tool.

• Funds were not awarded until the spring of 2019 meaning we missed a spring burning window;

• In the fall of 2019 the Ministry resources we rely on as part of our team were not available as

they were on export to the US;

• All of 2020 was lost to COVID;

• In the spring of 2021 we lost key personnel to COVID; and

• In the fall of 2021 Ministry personnel and resources were once again not available.

“The current structure of the CRI program allows us an extension to the end of April 2022 which means we would need to conduct three prescribed burns in April of next year. This is a difficult undertaking. We have requested an extension through the program administrators and BCWS and were told to do what we can within the current structure and simply re-apply for funding in the future for projects we don’t complete.”

The problem with that, McCormick says, is that not only will more administrative time go to re-applying for the same funds, but also the larger amount of funding ($680,000) awarded in 2019 is only available in smaller amounts now, which will require smaller burns and more time.

McCormick is asking for an extension to the fall of 2023 to complete all the work planned with the 2019 funds.