(from left) West Kelowna Council, Jayson Zilkie, Gord Milsom, Jason Friesen, Carol Zanon, Stephen Johnston and Rick de Jong photo: contributed

West Kelowna council to be presented with new Community Wildfire Protection Plan

The plan will help access more funding for predicted wildfires in the new year

West Kelowna Council will be presented with an updated Community Wildfire Protection Plan on Tuesday.

Staff is recommending that council support the application to the Community Resiliency Investment Program for $100,000 to prepare for the wildfires predicted to come in the new year.

The grant money would help reduce the likelihood of wildfire encroaching on the community, causing losses of infrastructure and negative economic and social wildfire impacts.

“West Kelowna will continue to face wildfire pressures and these should be expected to increase with climate change,” say staff in their report. “By maintaining a proactive focus on wildfire mitigation and response efforts, and through continued advocacy at the local and provincial levels the community can continue to find ways to grow and thrive in an active wildfire environment.”

RELATED: Water rate increases, a wildfire mitigation grant and more discussed at Lake Country council

The CWPP was created by the provincial government after the 2003 fire storm and has been a founding component to previous strategies.

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In 2009 the West Kelowna Fire Rescue and City of West Kelowna Parks Operations departments created the CWPP that was approved for $70,000 for work to remove forest fuel from identified plots of land. A second grant for $209,000 for the manpower, equipment and efforts to remove selected trees and undergrowth fuel sources.

Since 2009, West Kelowna has moved forward several grant-funded projects, public education and FireSmart initiatives such as Fire Danger Monitoring/Weather Station that was installed in Rose Valley, risk-based, real-time campfire bans and park closures, support for progressive fuel mitigation practices such as air-curtain burning, a campaign against tossing cigarette butts, inter-operability with BC Wildfire Service and regional mutual aid fire departments, public messaging and partnership with Westbank First Nation.

Council will meet Dec. 11 before adjourning until Jan. 8.

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