Firefighters battle the early stages of the Alkali Lake wildfire in 2018, located in the northern reach of the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine. Aaron Brown photo

Province adds funds to wildfire prevention projects in Terrace and district

Money part of $60 million Community Resiliency Investment program

The City of Terrace and the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine are among 89 recipients to share $9 million in provincial funding to help local governments and first nations mitigate the threat of wildfires.

This is the third round of funding through the Community Resiliency Investment program targeting wildfire prevention, from which Terrace received $136,704, and a further $114,080 for RDKS.

The District of Kitimat also received $24,739 to assist with education.

“Any funding for the prevention of massive wildfires is an advantage,” said RDKS emergency program coordinator and Thornhill Fire Chief Rick Boehm.”We’ve already identified high-risk areas where we want to do clearing and thinning. We’ve already cleared out three lots in the Dease Lake area and this year we’re going to broaden that.”

READ MORE: B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

Up to 100 per cent of funding was made available to selected projects across government jurisdictions, whether municipal lands, federal lands or B.C. Crown lands. Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resources operations and rural development noted wildfires don’t distinguish between these boundaries.

This year the Tahltan Nation also received $61,000 to assist with education, cross-training and FireSmart activities for private land. In 2018 the 121,000-hectare Alkali Lake wildfire destroyed 21 homes in Telegraph Creek. More than $12 million was spent making the community livable again, and 57 kilometres of fireguard needed to be rebuilt. In total roughly 50 structures were lost on both reserve and regional district lands.

“The people who call these communities home know all too well the dangers from wildfires,” FLNRORD Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon said. “Our government is committed to supporting local governments and First Nations because it’s their on-the-ground efforts and local knowledge that are crucial to protecting the economic, recreational and environmental lifeblood of their communities.”

The B.C. government committed $60 million to the Community Resiliency Investment program in 2018, replacing the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative. Program grants allocated provincewide to date is now 209, amounting to more than $18.6 million.

READ MORE: More planned forest fires needed: wildfire expert

In 2018 the RDKS received $197,108 in the program’s first round of intakes. Last year both the district and the City of Terrace received funding for a regional application totaling $99,980 for activities associated with education, planning, inter-agency cooperation, emergency planning and FireSmart activities on private lands. The Tahltan Nation did not apply to the program until this year’s intake.

Funding recipients in the Northwest Fire Centre region

• Atlin Community Improvement District: $36,500 to assist with education, crosstraining, FireSmart activities for private land

• Burns Lake: $37,300 to assist with education, emergency planning, cross-training, FireSmart activities for private land

• Gitanyow Band: $24,739.05 to assist with education, planning, cross-training

• District of Kitimat: $24,020 to assist with education

• Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine: $114,080 to assist with education, planning, interagency cooperation, cross-training, FireSmart activities for private land

• North Coast Regional District: $24,852.84 to assist with planning

• District of Stewart: $7,023 to assist with education, planning, emergency planning, cross-training, FireSmart activities for private land

• Tahltan Nation: $61,000 to assist with education, cross-training, FireSmart activities for private land

• City of Terrace: $136,704 to assist with education, inter-agency cooperation, crosstraining, FireSmart demonstration projects, FireSmart activities for private land, fuel management

• Gitwangak First Nation: $24,954 to assist with education, cross-training, FireSmart activities for private land

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