Heavy helicopter bucketing wildfire at Zeballos last August. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District helps fund emergency prep site

Site west of bridge will accommodate everyone in Zeballos community

The Strathcona Regional District is providing a grant-in-aid for the Ehattesaht Tribe near Zeballos to help the area prepare for emergencies.

RELATED STORY: Ehattesaht First Nation members ‘in awe’ of wildfires near Zeballos

The board approved the motion for a $2,000 grant at the Feb. 28 meeting. The funding will help an emergency preparation team establish an evacuation site on the west side of Zeballos. Funding will got toward the use of heavy machinery for approximately seven to 10 days to prepare the site.

The money for the grant is coming from the Area A grant-in-aid budget. Area A Director Gerald Whalley made the motion for the funding, which passed unanimously.

“I know this is going to make Dir. Colborne happy,” said SRD Chair Michele Babchuk.

Julie Colborne, Zeballos’s mayor and SRD director, was not at the board meeting.

RELATED STORY: Firefighters work to protect hydro lines near Zeballos as wildfires grow

The SRD’s grant-in-aid policy notes the grants are designed to support community efforts that are not the responsibility of other levels of government or not to augment activities that are supported by tax such as volunteer fire departments or community halls.

The Ehattesaht Emergency Preparation Team from the Ehattesaht Tribe made the request earlier this year, saying it has requested donations from various local companies. At the time of the request, they had lined up $6,000 from Aat’uu Forestry and affiliates.

The amount, as stated in the letter for the request, will be used to prepare the site to accommodate evacuations. Originally, the plan was to provide space only for residents on the west side of Sugarloaf Bridge in Zeballos. However, the site will now be developed for all residents because of a state of emergency on the east side of the bridge. The team has sought other funding through Indigenous and Services Canada (ISC) and Emergency Management BC (EMBC).

RELATED STORY: Zeballos evacuation order expanded due to danger of falling debris and slides

Last summer, Zeballos faced wildfires in its immediate vicinity. This brought an evacuation order in August, which was expanded in September.