A neighbourhood just south of Nakusp is going to get money to make the community safer from wildfires.
The Dog Creek Water Users has been awarded $4,920 from the Regional District of Central Kootenay (Area K) to update its emergency plans and do other FireSmart actions around the Bayview area.
The Community Development Fund money will be used for a variety of projects, including: updating the four-year old community contact list; clearing underbrush from around the community FireSmart shed and other public lands in the neighbourhood; establishing a five-person FireSmart committee to manage projects and apply for new ones; working with the local fire department to create a geo-location map of properties in the area; looking for bottlenecks in any evacuation routes and developing mitigation plans.
“It’s a work in progress,” says Cam Leitch, one of the organizers behind Bayview’s FireSmart program. “We have to start somewhere. Five grand is not a lot – we don’t know how far we’ll get with it – but we’ll make sure its well documented, all costs are accounted for, and we can give a full accounting at the end of the year… and be safer for it.”
The neighbourhood received its FireSmart status last year, and this grant will allow both planning and practical work to continue, says Leitch. Local people, including some youths, will be employed in the brush-clearing parts of the project.
The outreach already underway – a local teen was hired to re-collect emergency contact information over the summer – has prompted more residents get FireSmart assessments done of their property, says Leitch.
He says preparing and planning is a good way to reduce the stress and anxiety created when the forest fires grow in the summer.
“Be prepared, and if we can help people with that maybe it saves something, maybe it doesn’t,” he says. “But it’s the awareness that’s important.”
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice