Fires on Green Mountain last summer. File photo

Wildfire recovery and prevention still a hot topic for City and CRD

The North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee heard updates and plans regarding wildfires

The City of Quesnel and Cariboo Regional District (CRD) are continuing to commit time and resources to wildfire recovery and prevention.

At the most recent North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee on Mar. 13, representatives from the City and CRD heard from contractor employees with the Fraser Basin Council on both topics.

The wildfire recovery update outlined all activities that the sub-regional wildfire recovery team is focusing on.

Of note was that the wildfire recovery team has advocated for a the hire of a locally based community wellness coordinator to serve Quesnel and Nazko. The United Way committed to hiring two coordinators for the North Cariboo region specifically, the first of whom will begin the job this Monday.

The wellness coordinator will be working with individuals impacted by the wildfires, helping them access resources to optimize their physical and emotional health, as well as gathering additional resources and discovering what more is needed on a long-term basis to serve impacted individuals.

The wildfire recovery team also reported that they are continuing to assess the impact of the wildfires on urban and rural businesses. They have requested an extension to the Red Cross’ April deadline, to June 2018, as they are finding many more businesses are now realizing they have been affected by loss of income due to the wildfires.

The Fraser Basin Council’s Cariboo-Chilcotin regional manager Erin Robinson also presented a proposed Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) at the committee meeting, outlining the type of work needed to protect Quesnel and area from future fires.

The plan, which is available to read online at www.quesnel.ca/city-hall/major-initiatives/community-wildfire-protection-plan, includes recommendations for FireSmart planning and hand-crew forest fuel management, and is now being reviewed by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) under its Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative. Should it pass the review, prescriptions will be developed to move prevention activities forward.

The boundaries of the CWPP project can be seen online, and extend 2km from the fire protection boundaries of local fire departments in Bouchie Lake, 10 Mile Lake, Barlow Creek, West Fraser and Kersley. The area extends to include Dragon Mountain and Milburn Mountain, to cover communication towers.

The CRD is looking into fire protection and prevention beyond those boundaries.

Within the area, the CWPP has identified 2,700 hectares of crown land that requires fuel management treatment in and around Quesnel.

To that end, a motion was passed at the Joint Planning Committee meeting to send a letter to the Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) to request that the Ministry take the lead on CWPP activities and that communities receive 100 per cent of funding from the provincial government’s Forest Enhancement Society.

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