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(Last updated: September 27, 2012)

West Kelowna Council’s resolution seeking a province-wide wildfire protection program for both public and private lands from the Province of British Columbia was passed by the Union of BC Municipalities membership Thursday, September 27. 

Delegates, in attendance at the annual convention in Victoria, voted to send the following West Kelowna resolution to the provincial government for consideration:

WHEREAS the Province of British Columbia continues to experience wildfires due to effective fire suppression activities, drying weather trends and mountain pine beetle infestations on Crown, Public and Private lands;

AND WHEREAS the Province of British Columbia government:

Commissioned the “Firestorm 2003 Report” (Filmon Report) to provide recommendations to prevent future wildfire events; and,

Provides limited funding for local governments to implement Community Wildfire Protection Plans on Crown and Public lands; however,

Does not provide funding for or require fuel mitigation works to be conducted on private lands leaving such regulation to individual local governments to establish, enforce and assume the liability associated with those programs:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to enact provincial standards to ensure a province-wide comprehensive wildfire protection and works program is established, funded, executed and enforced for both private and public lands beginning with those lands at highest risk and immediately adjacent to residential areas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Recognizing the need for enhanced community wildfire protection, the District of West Kelowna endorsed the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in spring 2009.

Prepared by consultant Davies Wildfire Management, the West Kelowna CWPP is a comprehensive examination of wildfire risk in interface areas - areas where built structures (homes) are next to or among forested areas. Hazard ratings are assigned by analyzing different factors including tree densities, ground fuels, terrain, geography, housing density, water availability and risks of ignition. The West Kelowna CWPP identifies 65 future areas for treatment.

The operational works for these 65 areas are comprehensive, expensive and largely cost prohibitive under municipal taxation. Many of the identified areas are privately-owned.

January 25, 2011 - The District of West Kelowna cleaned up forest fire fuel on District and Crown land within District boundaries (completed April 2011), funded through a Government of British Columbia Community Operational Fuel Management grant, awarded in September 2010 through the Union of BC Municipalities. Funding could only be applied to projects on District-owned or Crown land.

What criteria was used to select treatment areas?

All available grants define areas that the funding can be used to treat. In the District's case, funding could only be applied to prioritized District lands and Crown lands within municipal boundaries. Unfortunately this excluded private lands, Westbank First Nation (WFN) lands and Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) parklands. Both WFN and the RDCO have accessed other funding for their lands. To date, the District has been unsuccessful in obtaining financial assistance for private home owners, although it continues to conduct research.

From the original 65 areas defined in the CWPP, many of which fall outside the District's jurisdiction, a detailed priority list was assembled of the approved treatment areas. The District will continue to apply for additional funding to address other needs.

The table below identifies the latest work, completed in Winter/Spring 2011:

Project
Priority

CWPP
Priority

Treatment
Area (ha)

Location

        Disposal
         Method
1 3 .29 Crown land near end of Webber Road Pile and burn
2 6 .2 Black Canyon Park, Sandberg Road Pile and burn
3 12 .9 Rock Ridge Park, Griffiths Place Road Chip
4 13 1.6 Casa Palmero Park (1) Pile and burn
5 15 .1 Falkner Creek Park East, Horizon Drive Chip
6 16 1.4 Falkner Creek Park West, Horizon Drive Chip
7 19 1.08 Casa Palmero Park (2) Pile and burn
8 21 2.9 Shannon Highlands Park, Shannon Lake Road Chip
9 27 5 Crown land near head of Rose Valley Lake Pile and burn
10 39 1.3 Horizon Park, Horizon Drive Chip

Maps of Treatment Areas:

How does forest fuel clean up impact my neighborhood, when it occurs?

When a forested area in your neighborhood is identified for treatment, area residents can expect possible park and trail closures, machinery noise, within acceptable hours, and contractor traffic around the site. All efforts are made to avoid negative impacts, although there may be inconveniences associated with reducing wildfire risks. The District advertises the specific areas and attempts to define the approximate dates for treatment before work begins.

What is the extent of the works?

The works often include tree thinning, limb removal, and under story fuel cleanup. In most cases the disposal of fuels is the largest challenge. Projects see the use of a variety of methods which are determined by the terrain and access at particular sites. The various methods include a combination of off site disposal, on site chipping and grinding, and in some cases, controlled pile burning closely monitored and regulated by West Kelowna Fire Rescue.  As burning permits are issued only when air quality and venting indices are suitable, the District advises the public on days when burning will occur through notices on its web site and to the media.

CONTACT US

For additional information, please contact one of the following departments:

  • Parks and Fleet Department: 778-797-8849
  • West Kelowna Fire Rescue (non-emergency): 250-769-1640
  • Communications Department: 778-797-2253
Last updated: 9/23/2013 12:19:29 PM