Single fuel management prescription now planned for Descanso and Cox parks

Fuel management prescriptions planned for Cox Community Park and Descanso Bay Regional Park will now be combined to make a single plan, part of a decision approved by the Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors to keep a set of planned prescriptions within the allotted grant budget.

Only one firm responded to the RDN’s request for proposals to undertake fuel management prescriptions for five RDN parks, which have been funded by a community resilience investment grant. Along with Descanso Bay and Cox, the other parks were Moorecroft Regional Park in Electoral Area E, Kipp Road Community Park in Electoral Area A and Malcom Road Community Park in Electoral Area F. The firm’s proposal exceeded the approved grant budget, however.

The amended plan approved by the board on Oct. 11 removes Moorecroft and Kipp Road parks from receiving fuel prescriptions at this time. Both parks are listed as low priority for fuel management activities in the electoral area community wildfire resiliency plans (CWRP).

Lisa Grant, RDN general manager of planning, development and emergency services, said the consultant indicated some of the fuel prescription management activities would not be as effective at those two parks. “We could have a better outcome by doing some of the prescription management in the other two sites by combining them together.”

Combining the prescriptions into one would also simplify public engagement and action planning for future treatments, the RDN says.

Descanso Bay Regional Park and Cox Community Park are connected through contiguous forest. The CWRP for Electoral Area B marks nearly all of the 42 hectare review area, which does not include the newest addition to Cox as the parcel was acquired after the CWRP was completed, as having a moderate fuel threat. In comparison, in 707 Community Park, over three-quarters has been designated as a high fuel threat.

Grant said the RDN would take lessons from this round for future fuel prescription grant applications “to have more equity across areas.”

Some directors weren’t convinced by the proposal.

“Gabriola got the largest amount of money out of this grant,” Electoral Area F Director Leanne Salter said at the Oct. 11 meeting, “now we’re adding two more parks…. If we’ve got extra dollars why aren’t we looking at other parks…. What’s going on on Gabriola that we … can’t spread it out?”

Eight directors voted in favour of a motion to refer the proposal back to staff for further review; however, the motion was defeated and the amendment to the scope of work was approved.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder