Government acts on fireguard woes, residents say

A fireguard of a mount of dirt on the property of a Southside resident in July. Some people have said the BC Wildfire Service has taken more action towards rehabilitation of fireguards since the summer. (Submitted photo)

A fireguard of a mount of dirt on the property of a Southside resident in July. Some people have said the BC Wildfire Service has taken more action towards rehabilitation of fireguards since the summer. (Submitted photo)

It was a difficult summer for some Southside residents frustrated by the process of fireguard rehabilitation, but there has finally been some progress.

The fireguards, consisting of high mounds of dirt dug up by the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) during last year’s wildfires were still on the properties of some residents as late as July.

READ MORE: Fireguard removal woes vex Southside residents

People had complained that BCWS procedures of asking residents to provide price quotes from landscaping contractors for the cost of taking down the fireguards were complicated and tiring.

Clint Lambert, Electoral Area E director with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako was initially critical of the way the BCWS had dealt with property owners.

However, the situation eventually changed for the better.

“Things are moving along,” he told Lakes District News on Oct. 10.

“My neighbour was reimbursed by BCWS for $3,300 to fix his fireguards. I helped him do it with his and my equipment.”

There is also progress with Lambert’s property, where during the wildfires in 2018 BCWS crew members had rerouted a creek while building a fireguard.

“Today a biologist is coming out to inspect it before they rehabilitate it,” the director said.

Ben Wilson, a forestry contractor with Zebe Holdings was also having a tough time into the second half of the summer.

“I would say up to that point we weren’t happy either. It was taking too long to get going. But they got on it around the first of August and then things have been steady since then,” he said.

“The government has been responsive. It’s just the delay that caused problems.”

Wilson’s company was contracted to do the rehabilitation work on Crown land for the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. Most was done around Cheslatta Lake and south of Ootsa Lake, which was south of the area of the Cheslatta fire.

He couldn’t give a precise number of kilometres remaining of fireguard, but he said the work was two-thirds completed compared to what was there in March.

READ MORE: Fireguard rebuilt near Cheslatta Lake

“Some [of the work] here will be delayed until next year but they could’ve gotten done if they had been started sooner,” Wilson said.

The experience of others in the Burns Lake area, like Ken Nielsen shows that the fireguard issue remains to be resolved.

“[As the] manager of Chinook [Community Forest] I’m disappointed with the progress of work being done. The amount of red tape involved is the major factor of timely work being performed,” he said.

“[As a] private land owner it took me over five months to settle with BCWS. They do nothing to help land owners through the process of compensation other than putting up walls and hoops to jump through.”

Most of the required fireguard rehabilitation is not yet finished, according to data from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).

Of the 193.96 km of remaining fireguard from the Verdun fire, 96.98 km has been rehabilitated; 3 km has been done in Cheslaslie Arm, out of 11.73 km in total; 53.39 km of fireguards remain in Cheslatta and 324.47 in Nadina and neither have been done.

In terms of wildfire rehabilitation, such as stabilizing soils and restoring hydrological functions, the remains of 10 out of the 14 fires in the Skeena Region are complete, said FLNRORD spokesperson Dawn Makarowski.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Kristy Bjarnason will be filling in the position left vacant by Darrell Hill. (Councillor Kristy Bjarnason Facebook photo/Lakes District News)
Kristy Bjarnason elected to be the new councillor

Preliminary election results for the 2021 by-election declared

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Most Read