After a “lengthy” discussion at the committee level of council, Grande Prairie City Council has affirmed their support for administration’s request for $200,000 from the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta.
Approval does not necessarily mean the city will see the $200K, but Chief Public and Protective Services Officer Dan Lemieux says the movement is a step in the right direction.
According to Chief Lemieux, administration put the application forward to provide the city with some financial aid for fire-smart projects in and around the municipality.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to get the funding but we’ve asked for $200K and the purpose of that will be for vegetation management, to look at the South Bear Creek Corridor, and to kind of cleanup area where there’s a lot of deadfall.”
“It doesn’t mean we’re going in and cutting a whole bunch of trees but we’re going to remove the deadfall, maybe some grasses, anything that creates a higher than normal fire hazard, we’ll try to clean up.”
Both administration and City Council have emphasized the importance of fire prevention over the winter season and Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton says if the $200K is granted from FRIAA, the city will more easily be able to expand on prevention services.
“We know in fire management, prevention is key in regards to vegetation management, planning, being safe around your house, being aware of what constitutes good planning for yourself,” she says. “With such a dry fall that we’ve had and now into winter also being dry we’re very cautious in regards to planning for the spring.”
“This grant, if we’re lucky enough to be awarded will continue to help us with that work we plan to do.”
Chief Lemieux adds that South Bear Creek is significant due to the nature of its corridor, which allows fire to enter the municipality more easily than other areas of concern.
“Really, South Bear Creek is kind of like the corridor, where fire would travel, if there was another fire outside of our municipality, so South Bear Creek is absolutely critical for us.”
“This is part of council trying to be proactive and say- what is it that we need to do to prevent the wildfires from entering our community.”
Upon approval, Lemieux says the city would “most likely” hire an outside contractor to begin fire-smart operations in the South Bear Creek Corridor.