Cranbrook City Council favours setting up wildfire hazard reduction zones

The City is getting behind a resolution going to the UBCM to establish a community forest zone for wildfire hazard reduction.

The City is getting behind a resolution going to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to establish a community forest zone for wildfire hazard reduction.

Mayor Stetski said that Robert Gray, a fire ecologist who has worked with various levels of government in Canada and the U.S., put forward the resolution to establish the zones.

“His concern is that right across British Columbia, our communities are not really appropriately protected from forest fires yet,” Mayor Stetski explained. “So this proposal is that communities would have an opportunity to manage the area around their community.”

He said the communities would draw a boundary that they would be comfortable with to protect from wildfires, which may or may not include something like the community forest. It would give the community more say with what happens in the zone for wildfire hazard reduction.

“Along with that, potentially the forest products from that area could be used for economic purposes by these communities as well,” Stetski added.

Coun. Bob Whetham said that the way he read the resolution, it allows for the establishment of a management priority.

“Typically if you look at forestry lands, they’re managed for commercial forestry. This would allow you to manage it for wildfire prevention,” Whetham said. “We could probably look for something very similar for watershed protection, because we’re always having competing demands for management in terms of accommodating our interests for particular reasons. So I think it gives another tool for us to use.”

Coun. Sharon Cross hoped that there could be consultation with the Community Forest Society, since it holds the agreement with the provincial government.

Stetski agreed, saying that it was still a long way from happening.

“This is very much just step one,” the mayor said.

Coun. Angus Davis was also in agreement.

“A few years ago when a forest fire was raging to the west of here, about six or seven miles, we were less than a day away from being ordered out of this community,” Davis said, “So if in the area close to the city boundary you can do some forest fire reduction work, then I think we should do it.”