Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced last week that the funding formula for interface fire work in municipalities will change as of January 1, 2013.
Kimberley has been one of the lead communities in developing a community wildfire protection plan and taking on fuel management projects.
Fuel management is the ongoing process of mitigating the risk of wildfire damage by reducing the amount of waste wood, tree needles, brush and other flammable material that could “fuel” a grassland fire or forest fire.
The province has announced they will pay 90 per cent of interface work up to $400,000 per year instead of up to $100,000.
“It is a help,” said Kimberley Fire Chief Al Collinson, the man in charge of Kimberley’s interface work.
“The funding formula they had was up to $100,000 the community pays $10,000, and anything above up to $400,000 the community pays 25 per cent. That’s a lot of money. But even now you still have to come up with that 10 per cent.”
Another difficulty is that some of the grants Kimberley was accessing for the work, such as the federal Jobs Opportunity Program, have now dried up.
Still, any increase in funding is welcome as a lot of work still has to be done in Kimberley.
There are two distinct parts to the interface work; first the initial clearing of an area to make it less vulnerable to allowing a wildfire to pick up steam; and secondly ongoing maintenance work to all treated areas.
“We have done a fair bit of the first round, but there’s still a lot that hasn’t been touched,” Collinson said. “With Teck, RCR and Tembec working on their lands, I’d say we’re 50 per cent through, but there is always maintenance afterwards.”
This year the City of Kimberley has applied for two grants, which will still operate under the old funding formula. Collinson says the City will do about $100,000 worth of work in the Kimberley Nature Park, and about $35,000 in the Nordic area.