Members of the Thunderbird Unit Crew clear bush surrounding Sproat Lake Community Hall during “Community Fire Smart Day” in 2019. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)

Members of the Thunderbird Unit Crew clear bush surrounding Sproat Lake Community Hall during “Community Fire Smart Day” in 2019. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)

Alberni Valley receives combined $240K in FireSmart funding from UBCM

ACRD, city, Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations team up to create region-wide FireSmart plan

The Alberni Valley has received a $240,000 FireSmart grant from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to be used for wildfire prevention, mitigation and preparedness initiatives. A partnership between the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, Hupacasath First Nation, Tseshaht First Nation and the City of Port Alberni will share the grant.

A focus of the FireSmart program is on individual homeowners and what actions they can take to become more resilient to wildfire, including having a FireSmart home assessment conducted on their property. The program will include a rebate option, where residents can receive up to $500 after completing the identified recommendations. A curbside yard waste removal program will be offered to residents and education programs will be presented. Another focus of the program will be to mitigate the wildfire risk to critical infrastructure in the region, ensuring the continued delivery of essential services during a wildfire event.

The grant funding also allows cross-jurisdictional training and exercises, and the development of a Long Beach Electoral Area Community Wildlife Protection Plan. The project will commence in late April and residents can follow the Alberni Valley Emergency Program Facebook page for further updates, or visit the ACRD website: https://www.acrd.bc.ca/firesmart

“With the prevalence of wildfires on the rise in recent years, we are excited to expand on our previous progress with the FireSmart Program to help make our community safer for everyone,” explains ACRD Chair John Jack. “We look forward to working together with the City of Port Alberni, Tseshaht First Nation, and Hupacasath First Nation to build a more wildfire resilient community. By collaborating on projects like this, we make our community stronger.”

Tseshaht First Nation is working on an individual plan for its nation, and will combine its efforts with the wider FireSmart initiative, says Elected Chief Councillor Ken (Wahmeesh) Watts. Region-wide cooperation is essential to creating a plan for the safety of everyone, he added.

Hupacasath First Nation Elected Chief Councillor Brandy Lauder pointed to teamwork as a way for the region to build resilience and be prepared for wildfire. “Hupacasath First Nation values working together with local governments to protect everyone from the consequences of climate change,” she said.

“Seeing the devastation caused by wildfires this past summer shook us all but knowing that we can take measured and tested steps to protect ourselves and our community against loss, damage or injury is empowering,” said City of Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions.

Port Alberni