Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
While the B.C. government recently announced changes to its FireSmart funding program for local governments, it won’t impact the process for the Regional District of Nanaimo.
FireSmart community funding and supports, part of the community resiliency investment stream, provides funding to local governments and First Nations for planning and activities to reduce wildfire risk, including fuel management and community wildfire resiliency plans. Up until this year, all funding has been application based, something local governments have taken issue with as indicated in a resolution from West Kelowna that was endorsed at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ September convention. In part, it calls on the province to change wildfire prevention grants from a competition-based application process to allocation-based.
Just before the convention, the province announced its FireSmart funding stream would change to an allocation-based model, but only for communities that passed certain criteria, including that they fall into a wildland urban interface (WUI) risk class between 1 and 3. Those in risk class 4 and 5 must still submit applications.
The RDN land base falls under risk class 5, according to Erica Beauchamp, RDN manager of emergency services. The announcement “does not change anything for the RDN for FireSmart funding, meaning we will continue to need to apply for FireSmart funding in the usual manner,” Beauchamp said.
The RDN completed community wildfire resiliency plans for all seven electoral areas in 2022. The regional district has applied for continued funding for a FireSmart coordinator position, Beauchamp said.
“If approved, we will look to fill the position so the FireSmart coordinator can continue on the good works of public outreach and engagement, hosting community FireSmart events, supporting community fuel disposal/removal with bin days and chipping days, supporting regional fire departments in the delivery of FireSmart initiatives and responding to inquiries from agencies and the public,” Beauchamp said. FireSmart activities on Gabriola are primarily carried out by a member of the Gabriola Fire Department with support from the RDN’s FireSmart coordinator.
For 2024, the RDN is also applying for a community resiliency investment grant to conduct a fuel management demonstration plot in Gabriola’s 707 Community Park.
The RDN is one of 224 eligible applicants that have received FireSmart funding, including 101 First Nations and 123 local governments since the program began in 2018, according to UBCM.
Long time Gabriola resident Henry Goyert passed away in Victoria on May 6th at 97. Born in Berlin in 1924, he came to Canada in 1952 where he and his family eventually made their home in Kitimat BC. He retired to Gabriola in 1980 after spending summers there in the house he and his wife Dorothy built. Henry lived a long and fascinating life. He will be remembered by those who knew him as a gracious, fun-loving gentleman who loved Gabriola Island. He was a consummate story teller and looked for fun in everything he did. Although dementia diminished him in the last few years the essence of his personality and sense of humour stayed with him.
He is survived by his two sons, Peter (Jill) and Thomas (Cindy), his long-time close friend and partner Ann, grandchildren Josh, Stephanie and Michael as well as three great grandchildren, Jack, Sam and Zoe. He was predeceased by his wife Dorothy and grandson Ben.