City awarded at UBCM for ‘chipping in’ on fire mitigation
The City of Kelowna received the 2023 Climate & Energy Action Award in the Community Planning & Development category Wednesday at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention in Vancouver.
The award from and the Community Energy Association recognizes the contribution Kelowna has made to building resilience to wildfires through its FireSmart program – particularly the Community Chipping Program.
“It is very gratifying to receive this Provincial recognition for the work we do in Kelowna on fire mitigation through the chipping program,” said Mayor Tom Dyas. “Our Council continues to look at ways we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, which we have experienced at an unprecedented level this summer in British Columbia.”
The City of Kelowna has offered free curbside removal and chipping of flammable plant and shrub materials for the past two years to reduce risk from wildfire on private properties in Kelowna.
The award judges said they were impressed with the City’s inter-departmental collaboration on the program, the quality of engagement with the community, and the fact that it is a program that could be replicated in other communities.
Hundreds of metric tonnes of flammable cedar, juniper, mugo pine and other coniferous debris were removed from over 250 private properties by City of Kelowna crews and contractors. Highly flammable plants provide fuel and pose considerable risk when they are located close to homes and structures. They often contain fine, dry, dead material such as twigs, needles, leaves and loose, papery bark that are quick to ignite and burn at high intensity.
“I would like to thank our staff and the community for their efforts in making Kelowna a more resilient community especially as related to mitigating the risk of interface fires,” said Mayor Dyas. “We know that making properties FireSmart made a significant difference this summer in Kelowna.”
Climate resiliency is built into the City’s Official Community Plan, providing policy direction and describing the work underway in Kelowna to mitigate short- and long-term climate risks. It receives funds from the Province, administered by UBCM.