Almost $400,000 was awarded to the Strathcona Regional District for their FireSmart program.
The regional district received $394,000 from the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ FireSmart Economic Recovery grant. The grant goes towards funding wildfire risk reduction activities, with the goal of creating new jobs and building local wildfire resilience.
“An interface fire is a severe and likely threat regardless of which community in the SRD that you reside in, and I know decreasing wildfire risk is a top priority of our residents,” said SRD board chair Brad Unger. “Resilience is the ability of a community not only to bounce back after a disaster, but also to adapt to the new normal a disaster brings with it.”
The grant will help the regional district increase that resiliency. The SRD was the lead organization on the application, but it was jointly made in partnership with six First Nations, three municipalities, the South Quadra Island Improvement District and the Cortes Island Fire Fighting Society.
The SRD has allocated a large portion of the funds to renovating community buildings. Renovations include installing tempered glass on windows and doors, enclosing the sides of buildings in fire-resistant material, replacing wood stairs with steel stairs and installing metal roofs.
These buildings include Camp Homewood, Gorge Hall, Linnaea Farm Education Centre, Nuchatlaht First Nation Administration Building, Sayward Valley Firehall, the Quadra Island Bible Church, Whaletown Firehall and the Zeballos Community Centre.
“Aside from holding a special spot in the cultural context of the communities, the SRD has Memorandum of Understandings in place with the non-profit owned facilities mentioned above to support Emergency Support Services during a disaster” said Shaun Koopman, SRD Protective Services Coordinator. “For many years, these organizations have been incredible supporters of our regional emergency program through hosting training sessions and engaging in numerous emergency planning conversations. It feels great to be able to provide them with meaningful funding to decrease the wildfire vulnerability of their facilities.”
The Villages of Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos as well as Ehattesaht/Chinehkint First Nation, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nation, Klahoose First Nation, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, and We Wai Kai First Nation will receive FireSmart Critical Infrastructure Assessment Reports on both their community buildings and infrastructure.
This report serves as a prerequisite that can then be used to apply for future FireSmart renovation funding. In collaboration with the Cortes Forestry General Partnership, the grant will also fund a four-hectare Wildfire Fuel Treatment on Cortes Island through pruning, thinning and removing ladder fuels to reduce both the amount and continuity of burnable vegetation.