Northeast Sector Municipalities Receive Funding for Wildfire Preparedness
PORT COQUITLAM, BC, July 5, 2021 – Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra are sharing in a provincial FireSmart grant of almost a half million dollars that will help create local jobs while improving wildfire preparedness and reducing property risk in their communities.
The cities of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, along with the villages of Anmore and Belcarra have received approval for their $496,900 joint grant request to B.C.’s FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund. Grant funding will be used to create six jobs to develop a sub-regional approach to wildfire prevention in the northeast sector’s wildland-urban interface areas – where development meets natural areas – and will benefit all four communities with residential assessment and mitigation, outreach and education activities.
Between the four communities, an estimated 5,000 properties are located in the wildland-urban interface area and at a greater risk for wildfires.
Protecting Critical Infrastructure
Facilities in Belcarra that are critical for regional wildfire response have been flagged for upgrades, as well as Sasamat Fire Hall which provides fire protection to Anmore and Belcarra. The facilities are surrounded by Belcarra Regional Park and, therefore, have significant wildfire risk. The grant will fund $50,000 in labour and materials to conduct risk assessments and complete required improvements.
FireSmart Jobs Created
The successful grant application will also stimulate the local economic recovery by creating six new local jobs:
- A full-time FireSmart coordinator, hired by Coquitlam for one year, will establish the sub-regional outreach program and help ensure cooperation between the various parties through a program charter and information-sharing;
- A full-time Local FireSmart Representative, hired by Coquitlam for six months, will conduct assessments of homes and critical infrastructure in the target area (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra), and support education and community outreach, including workshops and identifying neighbourhood champions; and
- Four student educators, hired by Port Coquitlam for part-time summer positions, will support the sub-region’s FireSmart education programs through outreach activities, such as handing out pamphlets door-to-door and facilitating hazard assessments.
A Collaborative Approach to Wildfire Prevention
Administered through the Union of B.C. Municipalities, FireSmart grants support job creation and economic recovery in B.C. communities while building wildfire resiliency through the program’s seven-pronged approach: education, vegetation management, legislation and planning, development considerations, interagency cooperation and cross-training emergency planning.
The collaboration between the four municipalities will help ensure FireSmart principles are adopted consistently across this sub-region in a cost-effective way. The intent is to reach residents with at-risk properties in the four communities through education and outreach, to conduct risk assessments and to improve sub-regional response capabilities through training, community education, infrastructure upgrades and other means.
The sharing of skills and resources will also lead to better long-term outcomes across these communities leaving them better able to reduce interface fire risks and more effectively provide a coordinated fire response.
Next Steps and Information
Hiring of the FireSmart staff is now in progress as initiatives begin to roll out this month.
The British Columbia FireSmart website, firesmartbc.ca, provides information about wildfire risk along with resources, including a guide for homeowners and online courses.