Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

The electoral area services committee unanimously supported going down the route of a demonstration fuel management plot at 707 Community Park saying such a project would benefit the entire Regional District of Nanaimo’s parks system.

“I think there’s some great value not just for the 707 Community Park fuel management but also as a demonstration of what’s possible and what the potential value is through all of our community and regional parks,” committee chair and Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) director, Bob Rogers, said.

The motion that passed came out of the Electoral Area B parks and open spaces advisory committee and, if passed by the board, would involve proceeding with community outreach to inform a provincial Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) grant application for 2024. The CRI pot of money is the same stream that funded the fuel management prescription for the 707.

The main focus of a demonstration plot is educating the public on fuel management strategies. One to five hectares in size, it would follow the treatment plan prescribed for the overall park area subject to the prescription, which was for 22 per cent of the park.

The community outreach would include consulting with the fire department on what it sees as an ideal location for a demonstration plot as well as what information is considered most important to communicate to the public, RDN board chair and Area B director, Vanessa Craig, said.

Craig told the EASC that POSAC was also keen on another staff-presented option for the park, an ecological wildfire management plan that looks at reducing fire risk through analyzing the natural succession of the forest through an ecological lens rather than the forestry lens that was used to write the prescription.

No action has been taken on exploring an ecological wildfire management plan for the 707, which would not be eligible for CRI funding, but RDN staff are in the process of developing a wildfire management plan for the region-wide parks system. The 2022 parks and trails strategy goals include development of a wildfire and risk assessment strategy to mitigate fire risk in regional and community parks with an estimated cost of $50,000.

Tom Osbourne, general manager of parks and recreation, said staff could not share any further information on the details of the strategy to the committee at this time though at the Area B POSAC meeting, RDN manager of parks, Rick Daykin, said the strategy was meant to help inform park-specific plans. High fire risk parks, which the 707 is considered, would be prioritized in the strategy. A report on the strategy is scheduled to go to the board sometime in 2024.

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