Property owners must remain fire smart

The onus to keep private properties clean of potential fire fuels remains on West Kelowna property owners.

  • Feb. 11, 2011 12:00 p.m.

The onus to keep private properties clean of potential fire fuels remains on West Kelowna property owners.

During adoption of the West Kelowna fire services bylaw earlier this week, Coun. Rosalind Neis noted close to half of the areas identified as high fire hazards in the district are privately owned.

She added the policy includes no ability for West Kelowna to deal with private properties identified as a fire risk.

She pointed out it is not a matter of areas being arbitrarily selected, but chosen through analysis by a professional forester that included thickness of brush and height of branches from the forest floor. She added the data presents a formula the district can apply to properties to determine if they present a risk.

West Kelowna fire chief Wayne Schnitzler noted the department is quite proactive in wild land areas.

He pointed out the permits being issued for fuel reduction have increased, and people are taking the educational messages being sent and doing work in their own yards.

“The caution here is we have a community built in a wildland interface area.”

Schnitzler noted there are large tracts of trees present in places like Huntsville Green and the old West Kelowna Estates area.

He said the residential component of all West Kelowna is a high hazard area.

He estimated if a cost per hectare to remove all the fuel from private land was estimated, the expense could be approximately $30,000 to $40,000 for a homeowner to get the work done.

“The costs would be so high, I don’t think the regular homeowner could bear those costs.”

He noted that some of the areas considered high risk are right in residential areas.

“It’s a tough business to get involved in, removal of trees and forced removal of trees, with residents.”

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