Pine beetle attack is taxing Kelowna’s finances

City is asking Victoria to help pay for its work to stop the pine beetle

Kelowna is looking for financial assistance from the province, through the Union of B.C. Municipalities, to help it fight the mountain pine beetle.

According to Blair Stewart, the city’s urban forestry supervisor, with 24 per cent of the trees in the city ponderosa pines and 60 to 80 per cent expected to be infected by 2018, the potential for serious damage here is high.

“It’s not a question of if, but rather when,” Stewart told council Monday.

While infestation rates have been slower here than in other parts of the province, the city has been active in trying to attack the problem, which has seen vast stands of trees in northern and central B.C. killed by the beetle in recent years.

The city, through a partnership with the federal government, has received $1.27 million in funding through 2014 to help with beetle control measures.

So far, the city’s main goal has been to assist with city-owned property.

Under the funding being applied for from Victoria, the city could have up to 90 per cent of its costs, up to $100,000 and 75 per cent of its costs from $100,000 to $400,000 re-imbused.

Stewart said the city has made a $165,000 application for funding assistance.

In addition to a beetle hotline that is provided to give the public information about the problem and possible solutions—especially private landowners who are affected—the city has fuel modification crews that have completed work at 29 sites where there is beetle-kill wood.

Some of the hardest hit areas so far in the city include North Glenmore near the city’s landfill and  areas out near Gallagher’s Canyon, said Stewart.