The B.C. government has provided more than $2.8 million in grants to 15 local governments and First Nations in the Southeast Fire Centre to support wildfire risk reduction initiatives and help keep communities safe.
These Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) grants are part of a total of more than $15 million provided to 118 recipients throughout B.C., following the latest application intake in the program’s FireSmart Community Funding and Supports category.
“Mitigating wildfire threats is crucial to help safeguard people, homes and businesses throughout the province,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Since the Community Resiliency Investment program was established in 2018, our government has approved 366 grants to local governments and First Nations totalling over $37 million.”
Funding provided through CRI’s FireSmart Community Funding and Supports category helps Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments reduce wildfire risks around their communities. Recipients can use the money for wildfire risk reduction and fire prevention activities related to the FireSmart program’s nine eligible funding areas:
- vegetation management (reducing accumulations of flammable materials on the landscape)
- community planning
- development considerations (looking at ways that local governments could regulate development to incorporate FireSmart principles)
- inter-agency co-operation
- FireSmart training and cross-training
- emergency management planning
- FireSmart projects for critical infrastructure
- FireSmart activities for residential areas
Eligible applicants facing a lower wildfire risk can apply for up to $50,000 through the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports category, while applicants facing a demonstrated higher wildfire risk can apply for up to $150,000. They can apply for funding to cover up to 100% of the cost of their wildfire risk reduction projects.
Mitigating wildfire threats is a shared responsibility of the provincial government, local governments, First Nations, industry, stakeholders and individual British Columbians. The CRI program helps increase community resiliency by funding activities that promote FireSmart education, planning and opportunities for partnerships through regional FireSmart committees.
The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) administers the $60-million FireSmart Community Funding and Supports grant program and it processes grant applications in partnership with the ministry and the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. The next application intake opens on June 30, 2021. More information about the application process will be available on the UBCM website.
Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development –
“People want to be safe, and we've seen the reality of wildfire risk over the last few years, so reducing wildfire risk to B.C. communities is a top priority of our government. We are dedicated to working together with local governments and First Nations in rural B.C. to keep people out of harm’s way.”
Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness –
“Local governments and First Nations play a vital role in reducing wildfire risks. Through this grant program, our government is helping make communities safer and better prepared to cope with future wildfires.”
Brian Frenkel, president, Union of B.C. Municipalities –
“As the fire season heats up, B.C. residents are reminded of the hazards posed by wildfire. The funding provided through this program will increase FireSmart activity around the province and will reduce the risk of wildfire to the health and safety of our communities. I appreciate the Province’s ongoing support for these activities.”
Julie Couse, ?Aq’am director of lands and natural resources –
“ʔaq̓am has been able to secure funding through the CRI program and then leverage it further to complete some larger-scale wildfire protection projects within our community. With this increased capacity, we are now able to look at a maintenance program for treatments that previously felt unobtainable.”
Len MacCharles, fire chief, Nelson Fire and Rescue Service –
“As a community, we feel that we can reduce the impacts of wildfire in Nelson. We promoted FireSmart for homeowners and identified forested areas on Crown land within the city that could be ignited by embers from a nearby wildfire. Historically, we have focused on the wildland urban interface, but over the past few years we have been expanding our focus to include the whole city. The support we received from the Community Resiliency Investment program allowed us to take on a project that benefits our whole community by reducing wildfire risk. We want to be an example of doing it right.”
Community Resiliency Investment program:
Information about Community Resiliency Investment grants on the UBCM website: www.ubcm.ca/cri
FireSmart program: https://firesmartbc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.