A wildfire burns near the access road to Zeballos on Aug. 17, 2018. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

SRD gets funding boost to battle wildfire risk

Community Wildfire Protection Plans underway for eight areas including Sayward and Gold River

Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is continuing its efforts to reduce wildfires around the region.

Grant funding from the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) will allow eight Community Wildfire Protection Plans to be developed, the SRD announced Tuesday. Among them are Sayward Valley in Electoral Area A; Villages of Gold River, Sayward, Tahsis and Zeballos and adjacent areas; Nuchatlaht and Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations and adjacent areas; and Read Island in Electoral Area C.

“The Community Wildfire Protection Plan is a crucial step in better preparing homeowners and communities to reduce the risk of loss,” said Strathcona Regional District Chair Michele Babchuk. “The plans will describe the consequences of a wildfire and examine the possible ways to reduce risk by making recommendations to lessen wildfire threats and impacts to our region.”

The grant, which is worth $175,000, is called the Community Resiliency Investment Grant and will be used to improve aerial imagery and to develop the Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

The Community Resiliency Investment program was launched in 2018 and is intented to help reduce the risk and impact of wildfires to communities across the province.

With the number of extreme weather events taking place, governments and First nations communities are vital to responding to emergencies when they occur, the release said.

“We are all in this together, no matter what those jurisdictions might be. Sometimes, you have to really look beyond jurisdictional boundaries” said Elizabeth Jack, Emergency Coordinator for Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h. “Large wildfires may become a new norm that will demand a major shift in thinking. Critical to that equation is partnership and working collaboratively to plan for a new paradigm.”

GIS mapping using the 2019 Provincial Strategic Thret Analysis data package will be the next step in developing the plans. The work contract was awarded to SuavAir Operations, based out of Campbell River.

RELATED: Campbell River and remote communities plan for wildfires amid mounting anxiety

RELATED: B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season


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