Plan needed to deal with McIvor Lake fire risk

Area is somewhat remote and difficult for firefighters to access

The McIvor Lake area poses the greatest risk for a wildfire in Campbell River.

That’s according to a recent report conducted by Strategic Natural Resource Consultants for a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Leigh Stalker, a professional forester with Strategic, said while the threat of wildfires for most of Campbell River is low, there are areas that caught the attention of the consultants.

“The far, far majority of the areas came out mild or moderate (risk) but a few were high, such as the block around McIvor Lake,” said Stalker during a presentation of the report to the Strathcona Regional District board on Wednesday afternoon.

The reason being, there are a lot of coniferous trees growing close together and the area is somewhat remote and difficult for firefighters to access because of the long, gravel road that winds around the lake. There’s also a locked gate blocking access to the homes.

Other areas of concern are Gordon Road because of the high concentration of trees, and Blue Spruce Mobile Home Park on Duncan Bay Road.

However, Stalker was quick to point out that wildfires within the city boundaries are not very common due to “regulation from the ocean.”

The fires that do ignite are typically not a result of Mother Nature.

“The far majority of wildfires here are human-caused which indicates there is potential for a drastic reduction of wildfires with various prevention strategies,” Stalker said.

Those strategies should include public education and increased training. Stalker suggested it may be beneficial for the local fire department to offer basic fire suppression training for city officials to improve local operational knowledge.

Strategic’s report also recommended improved fire-fighting efficiency in the McIvor Lake area such as installing a fire hydrant at the top of General Hill and looking into an alternate water source near McIvor Lake residences such as a water tower.

The report also suggested bylaw improvements such as allowing the Campbell River Fire Department to respond to wildfires outside of the local service area.

While the report was specific to Campbell River, the report was requested by the Strathcona Regional District.

Campbell River is the last of the regions within the regional district to have its Community Wildfire Plan updated.

The report and all of its findings will be submitted to Campbell River city council for review.