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City-specific emergency management plan nears realization

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
September 16th, 2018

The city will be seeking its own path on emergency management and wildfire mitigation, and has opted to decline inclusion into a new regional wildfire mitigation service.

Third reading of the Nelson Emergency Management Plan was passed by council last week, and included creation of an emergency management organization, appointment of a director of emergency management, delegation of authorities and establishment of an emergency operations centre.

All sectors in the city will benefit from an emergency management program that focuses on the specific challenges and needs of the city, said Nelson Fire and Rescue Services chief Len MacCharles.

“Greater community resilience means Nelson as a whole will be able to better withstand and recover from an emergency or disaster,” he said.

Coun. Michael Dailly agreed.

“We are going to be in way better shape in six months or a year when we have this put together and as far as how people are going to evacuate, which route they are going to take, among other things,” he said.

MacCharles said it might be a longer time frame than six months or a year to establish all facets of the plan.

Nelson is currently in an emergency planning service with Areas E and F of the RDCK but the city has given notice it intends to withdraw from the full regional service at the end of 2018 in order to focus its resources on the city’s capabilities to prepare and respond to emergencies.

The city also elected not to participate in a new wildfire mitigation service being proposed by the regional district, which came to council at the same time, since the cost of the service would far outweigh the benefit to the city, it was decided.

The fuel treatment work in the rural areas surrounding Nelson have been accounted for by the regional district through seven individual emergency planning services. Due to the growing demand for this type of work the RDCK is seeking to establish a stand-alone regional service for wildfire mitigation.

City manager Kevin Cormack said the city has managed such wildfire mitigation projects on their own, including 107 hectares of fuel treatment in Rosemont, by 10th Street campus, the city cemetery and the rail trails.

“Certainly we see value and we want to see our neighbours doing fuel treatment in all areas around the city and in built-up areas,” he said.

“Our challenge is we have been the largest assessment base (for the service) and, based on assessment, we would pick up 20 per cent of the cost of the service, even though the city is one of 17 electoral districts and municipalities.”

Cormack said the city will still explore how it can work with the region and participate in wildfire mitigation in some way, “but it being on an assessment basis we think we could use that money more effectively with our own program,” he said.

A motion was moved by council to direct staff to meet with RDCK and work on a different way to deliver the service than is proposed, as well as to not enter into the new wildfire mitigation service at the time.

The Local Government Act requires that service participants consent to adoption of the bylaw prior to receiving approval from the inspector of municipalities, meaning the bylaw must be referred to all municipal councils and electoral area directors within the RDCK for consideration.

Rolling back the years

In 2008 the Nelson Contract Fire Protection Area Community Wildfire Protection Plan was developed as part of the regional district’s community wildfire protection plans.

In 2015, the city’s Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) was completed to help guide in wildfire risk reduction and mitigation.

Part of the recommendations in the CWPP is ongoing wildfire mitigation projects, even though it has completed over 107 hectares of fuel treatment in and around Nelson such as around the Nelson cemetery, Art Gibbon Memorial Park and various pieces of city property along the Great Northern Burlington Rail Trail and work to protect the drinking water infrastructure in West Arm Park.

— Source: City of Nelson

Categories: General

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