The City of Castlegar has received a grant that will help reduce the risk and impact of wildfires.

A $30,000 grant received from the Ministry of Forestry, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will update the City of Castlegar Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The Plan update will be complete within one year.

“This might be the most important plan we have that few residents know much about,” says Mayor Bruno Tassone. “Given our location, investment in fire prevention planning is an investment in the foundation of our future prosperity and quality of life.”

A Community Wildfire Protection Plan helps the City better understand how wildfire might threaten the community, and outlines steps the community takes over a period of time to reduce risk of damage to property and buildings in the event of a wildfire. The City’s current Plan was developed in 2007. While numerous recommendations have been implemented, the Plan needs updating to ensure it’s in line with the current Provincial Strategic Threat Analysis.

Updating of the Plan will involve new mapping, identification of at-risk critical infrastructure, identification of fuel types, completion of threat assessments, and design and prioritizing of fuel treatment (e.g. thinning, trimming, deadfall removal, prescribed burns).

The City participates in the Regional District of Central Kootenay Regional Wildfire Mitigation Program, with a budget contribution of $15,000 in 2018. The City additionally partners with the Selkirk College Forestry Program to conduct FireSmart assessments for private property owners, and hands-on fuel reduction using prescriptions on public city land.

The 2018 wildfire season in British Columbia was the most destructive on record, with more than 13,000 square kilometres of forest burned – roughly 650 times the land area of the City of Castlegar. In March, 2019 the BC Government announced a 58% increase (to $101 million annually) in funding for wildfire management.