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July 28, 2017, 12:32 pm

Partnerships Key to Keeping Whistler Safe

Resort Municipality of Whistler

WHISTLER – Recent hot weather, smoke and the devastating wildfires in B.C.’s Interior are all reminders about the how critical it is for the community to work together to address Whistler’s wildfire risk and prepare for emergencies.

In January, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) adopted a Wildfire Protection Strategy, which includes 17 prioritized recommendations to reduce Whistler’s wildfire risk. A variety of recommendations are moving ahead now, and all residents and visitors can help. Half of the wildfires in B.C. are caused by human carelessness, and the majority are discovered through public calls to 911.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said, “I am pleased to update the community on some recent collaborative wildfire management successes. The RMOW is investing heavily in an accelerated and aggressive wildfire protection program, but it is a shared responsibility to keep Whistler safe. Please do what you can now. Get a FireSmart assessment of your property and reduce your property’s wildfire risk, respect fire bans, educate visitors, and report any fires immediately to hasten fire department’s response.”

New Adopt-A-Trail program: a community partnership
The municipal FireSmart program engages volunteer community groups to work together on high priority areas of the Whistler’s Valley Trail pruning conifer trees, removing dead wood, and cleaning up the forested areas directly adjacent to the trail. This reduces the likelihood of fires, which are often caused by discarded cigarette butts, while improving sightlines for cyclists and the overall health of the surrounding forest. Speak up if you see dangerous behaviour, and get involved in some hands-on community safety work.

The Rotary Club of Millennium Whistler(link is external) and Whistler Blackcomb’s Habitat Improvement Team(link is external) (HIT) have committed to participate, and other community groups are invited to get involved. Tools and safety equipment are supplied, and the cost to remove the vegetation is covered by the municipality. To get involved, you must register at fire@whistler.ca(link sends e-mail)

FireSmart leaders: Strata corporations take steps to protect their properties
Sunrise and Eagle Ridge strata properties recently hosted their own FireSmart work days with residents, and contracted arborists to remove coniferous vegetation close to buildings and throughout their properties. The Gables and Powderwood properties have also included the FireSmart coordinator in their strata annual general meetings to help plan the implementation of FireSmart recommendations.

The RMOW’s FireSmart program provides practical tools and advice to reduce the wildfire risk levels of homes, businesses and properties. By request, FireSmart staff will visit your property, evaluate the buildings and landscape, and provide an easy-to-implement plan. This program is becoming more and more popular. Learn about what you need to do to keep your property safe in the event of a wildfire.

New Whistler firefighter training protects critical municipal infrastructure
New this year, Whistler Fire Rescue Service’s full-time duty crews are taking action to protect critical municipal infrastructure, such as the Fire Hall in Alpine Meadows, drinking water pump houses, and pressure release valves—important components of Whistler’s water supply system.

Protecting critical municipal infrastructure, including Whistler’s watersheds, greenspaces and parks, are all recommendations included in Whistler’s Wildfire Protection Strategy.

Fuel thinning projects: partnerships with the Province and Cheakamus Community Forest

The RMOW is continuing with fuel thinning projects in the community, which began a decade ago. Fuel thinning projects involve removal of ground brush and debris, as well as pruning branches and removing specific trees. 

With funding from the provincial Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative fuel thinning projects have been completed in high priority neighbourhood areas including Brio, Kadenwood, Millar’s Pond, Horstman Estates, and Lost Lake Park. Work will continue adjacent to Alpine Meadows and above the cemetery this fall. The Cheakamus Community Forest in partnership with the RMOW will complete the Callaghan Forest Service Road and Wedge area fuel reduction project this year with partial funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC.

Complete Campfire Ban
To help prevent wildfires, Whistler’s Fire Chief has imposed a complete ban on campfires for the remainder of the summer season. Fines for having a campfire during this ban are $500. Smoking is not allowed in Whistler parks or trails.

Report fires
During fire season prevent and report wildfires. Phone 911 in Whistler. Outside of Whistler phone 1-800-663-5555 or dial *5555 toll free on most cell networks. Follow fire danger rating guidelines, including fire bans.

Learn more about Whistler’s FireSmart program at whistler.ca/firesmart.

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