New report from Regional District of Nanaimo identifies wildfire risk in region – Nanaimo News Bulletin

The Regional District of Nanaimo has a better understanding of wildfire threats after creating rural hazard reports.

Diamond Head Consulting Ltd. analyzed public lands in electoral areas of the RDN last July and August, a staff report said. The plans examine wildfire risk for areas where development borders the forest (wilderness-urban interface) and advise on wildfire resilience through the principles of FireSmart, a national program.

The RDN’s electoral sector services committee approved the reports at its May 5 meeting.

Cedar, South Wellington, Yellowpoint and Cassidy (Area A)

With an area of ​​more than 6,000 hectares, the report classified the overall wildfire risk in Zone A as moderate and “potential wildfire behavior across the landscape is generally moderate, with few forests posing a high threat of wildfire behavior”.

“High-risk areas driven by the slope are found in small areas of Hemer Park, on the shores of Quennell Lake, and in the Nanaimo River and Haslam Creek River valleys,” the report said.

Fuel management was suggested for just one section of Area A, at Kipp Road Community Park near the Nanaimo city limits and homes in Areas A and C. The report says the area has “pockets of threat of highly predictable wildfires”.

According to the report, the water supply differs across the region, with most areas, other than the North Cedar Improvement District, either lacking fire hydrants or having a limited community water supply from wells. However, firefighters may be drawing water from sources such as Holden and Quennell lakes, according to the report.

Gabriola, DeCourcy and Mudge Island (Area B)

The overall wildfire risk for Area B, which measures nearly 5,800 hectares, is moderate to high, according to the report. Although potential wildfire behavior is rated as “generally moderate”, there are forests in the region that have “high or extreme wildfire behavior threat”.

In addition, there are large interface areas between wilderness and urban areas, “characterized by … a lack of clear boundaries between forests and settlements,” the report says, with “high potential for severe wildfires.” in these areas, presenting threats to life and property. .

One area of ​​concern is Community Park 707, the report notes, with a section of the park considered high risk due to proximity to residences. The threat is due to “younger and denser coniferous vegetation”. The RDN permanently banned homeless camping in the park in April due to the risk of wildfire.

In terms of water supply, most residents use wells supplemented by cisterns used to collect rainwater, the report says. There are cisterns located on all three islands dedicated to emergency water supply. Area firefighters would likely be the first on the scene of a wildfire, the report said, and the BC Wildfire Service would respond to fires on the outer islands from its bases in Parksville and Cobble Hill.

A fuel management plan is being developed for part of the fleet, “characterized by a high threat [young dense Douglas-fir] combustibles upstream of homes in the Gabriola townsite,” the report states, and would reduce the risk of fire spreading to the townsite.

Extension, Nanaimo, East Wellington and Pleasant Valley Lakes (Zone C)

Area C, measuring nearly 110,000 hectares, has a “moderate” overall wildfire risk and a “generally moderate” potential for wildfire behavior. High-threat sloping areas are located in the northeast area of ​​Mount Benson, with steep terrain and continuous slopes, the report notes.

Water supplies are limited with isolated fire hydrants in the Extension and South Forks areas and potential water sources for firefighters at Witchcraft, Blind and Harewood lakes, the report adds. The potential of the Cranberry Fire Protection District is “more limited” due to lack of surface water supply.

Forest fuel management in Area C is “somewhat limited,” depending on factors such as a limited amount of public land, the report said, but land near East Wellington and Galloway Gulch, on land Crown and Vancouver Island University Woodlot License, have “high-moderate” threat and thinning out areas of higher-density conifers could reduce risk, the report said.

RDN applied to the Union of BC Municipalities Community Resilience Investment Program for a reporting grant in February 2021.

RDN emergency services manager Catherine Morrison said staff will review plans and engage with fire services and partners when asked about next steps at the meeting. Funding opportunities through the program will be explored and recommended priorities will be reviewed and incorporated into the 2023-2027 financial plan, she said.

For reports on all electoral constituencies in the RDN, visit

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