With spring arriving in a big way in the Okanagan, the city is preparing for fire season, and new budget increases from the province could help.
Forest fuel mitigation work has been ongoing in East Kelowna for the past few weeks, where the province plans to spend $1.6 million over three years removing fuels from the Crown land forested area near Myra Canyon.
While Crown land wildfire mitigation projects are handled by the province through the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the City of Kelowna has applied for additional provincial funding for work within city limits, under the Community Resiliency Investment program that was established last September. An additional $10 million was recently added to the $50 million program in the 2019 budget.
Andrew Hunsberger, City of Kelowna urban forestry supervisor, says he’s confident the city will receive the $100,000 maximum they’ve applied for. Half of that will be used for reducing wildfire fuels in the forested area between Clifton and Glenmore roads, where a large wildfire quickly took off last July.
“That was identified as a high-priority area that we need to deal with,” Hunsberger said. “We got really lucky (last July) in that we had aircraft in the area working on all these other fires … if we didn’t have access to helicopters and airtankers, that could have been a different story.”