City council has fully-endorsed a wildfire protection plan for Williams Lake and fringe area.
Mike Simpson, regional manager with Fraser Basin Council, and colleagues Ken Day and Steve Capling presented the final draft of the plan during an open house on Nov. 27 that attracted about 80 people, followed by Simpson presenting the plan to council at a committee of the whole meeting.
The plan makes 25 recommendations ranging from increasing the pace of grassland restoration treatments, the need of landowners to fire smart their private property and maintaining or expanding mutual aid agreements between fire departments and levels of training and equipment for structural and wildfire response.
“There are starting to be some funding opportunities available to private landowners,” Simpson said.
One of the key recommendations in the report, Simpson added, is to establish a Central Cariboo fuel management secretariat or working group and appoint an individual to undertake the work necessary to implement the plan.
“After the experiences we had in 2017, there’s a need for that cooperativeness for us to work together.”
Simpson said he met with the Minister of Forests’ staff and told them wildfire protection plans have been created for Quesnel and recently completed for Williams Lake and needed for Kamloops.
“I said during the meeting, ‘here are three places where you have a community that is interested, you’ve got a wildfire protection plan, why don’t you look at funding a position or a pilot project that would help implement plans and achieve a number of the goals out of the Abbot Chapman Report,’” Simpson said, adding he wasn’t promised anything but was told his idea would be pitched to the minister.
The report also outlines the land status of the areas of interest that wall within the plan’s scope showing that 34.8 per cent is private land and 35.5 per cent is Crown land.
“The city needs to take the lead,” Coun. Scott Nelson said before he made a motion that council endorse the plan and refer it to neighbouring agencies, local governments and First Nations and further that council endorse the concept as a pilot project.
“It’s a fantastic report and I don’t want us to rest on our laurels,” Nelson said. “We just received money from the Williams Lake Community Forest that could go toward it.”
At its regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 4, city council will be asked to endorse applying to the federal and provincial governments for funding to employ the proposed secretariat position to over see implementation of the recommendations contained in the plan.
Council will also vote for or against writing a letter to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the federal and provincial governments requesting they lobby the National Insurance Board to provide incentives to homeowners to fire smart their properties, an idea first proposed last summer by Coun. Jason Ryll who drafted a resolution for the UBCM.