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Outer Discovery Islands residents consider wildfire brigade to combat growing threat

Strathcona Regional District collecting feedback about establishing new service
Wildfire protection is being planned for residents in the Surge Narrows area. Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service

The Strathcona Regional District wants to hear from locals about a proposed Outer Discovery Islands wildfire fighting service.

Earlier this year, the SRD did a feasibility study on the service, the results of which are now up for community feedback. The goal of the service is to establish a wild land firefighting brigade in the outer Discovery Islands.

During the 2021 heat dome, a structure fire occurred on Sonora Island. Due to the hot and dry conditions, the fire spread quickly, but was stopped by an ad hoc fire control effort organized by locals, supported by BC Wildfire Service.

RELATED: Sonora Island community ordered to be ready to evacuate fire zone on moment’s notice

“The Diamond Bay fire incident was disturbing to many in the Outer Discovery Islands,” said the report of the feasibility study. “Summertime fire conditions had been noticeably changing over recent years, culminating with the 2021 heat dome and Diamond Bay fire… Residents were frustrated by the Diamond Bay fire experience and expressed a desire to become better prepared as a community for similar incidents in the future.”

The feasibility study, which was published in September, outlines the findings of a review of the issues, and makes recommendations to help streamline fire response in the outer Discovery Islands.

“The geography of the region, including the terrain, marine conditions, dispersed population, absence of infrastructure, and the way in which development has occurred would potentially require a unique and unconventional method of providing fire services in this area, so full community collaboration and input going forward is extremely valuable,” says an SRD press release.

The report also has recommendations the SRD received during community meetings that were held in June. Those are to set up a Wild land Firefighting Service similar to the BC Wildfire Service, and that members be recognized either as volunteers or employees of the SRD to ensure they are covered by the regional district’s indemnity bylaw.

The service would be funded through a tax requisition, and supplemented by grant funding wherever possible.

People can submit feedback by 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 on the proposed service through an online survey, by phone at 250-830-6702, by emailing, or through mail to the SRD corporate office at 990 Cedar St. Campbell River BC V9W 7Z8.

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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