A report awaiting final approval from North Saanich council draws attention to the wildfire risk around LAU,WELNEW /John Dean Provincial Park as well as other local parks.
The District of North Saanich’s community wildfire protection plan 2021 identifies the area surrounding the park and areas within the park among those with the highest potential for wildfire and greatest risk to value within the municipality. Also falling into this category are areas adjacent to Horth Hill Regional Park, including mixed neighborhoods north and east of the park.
Using something called the wild urban interface threat score, the report points to several parts of both parks as having a moderate to high threat of wildfire.
The report also assigns high to moderate threat scores to Sycamore Park and Duck Pond, as well as moderate scores to Lands End Drive, Lillian Hoffar Park and Texada Terrace, among other areas.
Overall, the analysis states North Saanich land includes a range of threat classes from very low to high. Lands in the high threat class represent less than one per cent of the total, while those at moderate threat are 10 per cent. District lands at a low risk make up 21 per cent, while areas listed as very low/water totalled 20 per cent. The report has no data for the remaining 49 per cent, classified as private land.
Another matrix measuring wildfire threats comes to a comparable conclusion, but notes that LAU,WELNEW /John Dean Provincial Park represents a significant proportion of the total area of moderate wildfire threat.
Looking more closely at the areas around that park and Horth Hill park, the report notes many homes in interface areas do not maintain a 10-metre buffer between property lines and the forest. Flammable landscaping is frequently found near residences and there is a “lack of defensible space between property footprints and adjacent forested areas,” it reads.
Council will reconsider the report this fall, while launching a campaign to inform the public and invite feedback. Fire Chief John Trelford said last month that approval of the report would not have made a difference in 2021.
Council last month also approved hiring another professional firefighter in January 2022. Mayor Geoff Orr and staff were also tasked with discussing the urban interface and management of it with Ministry of Environment and Climate Change parks officials at the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference.
“Wildfire is a real threat in many parts of North Saanich,” Coun. Celia Stock said last month. North Saanich has been working on the issue of wildfire safety for a decade and cannot languish, she said.
The ministry said in a statement to the Peninsula News Review that BC Parks continues to work on a fuel load treatment program for the park to further reduce fire risk.
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