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Cash for prevention?
A large, forested park on Coquitlam’s Westwood Plateau that’s close to hundreds of homes may get pruned soon to stop wildfires from spreading.
Coquitlam council Monday voted to send a funding request to the Union of BC Municipalities to hire forestry professionals to look at how Ridge Park could get tidied up. Ridge Park is a 60-hectare city park between Parkway and Plateau boulevards that’s heavily used by hikers and off-leash dog walkers.
Lanny England, the city’s urban forestry and park services manager, said the cost to hire a professional would be $10,000, with $2,500 coming from taxpayers. If the city goes ahead with the recommendations, the clean-up would likely happen in 2013, with 90% of the bill paid by UBCM, if approved.
The move to trim back trees, break up the canopy and take out dead green waste at Ridge Park was suggested in the city’s 2006 community wildfire protection plan, which was prompted after the 2003 wildfires in Kelowna when many interface areas — where homes abut forests — were affected.
Since that report was written, Coquitlam has implemented several measures, including buying more sprinkler equipment, developing evacuation plans, posting fire danger signs, enacting advanced training for firefighters and public education programs.
England said Ridge Park is rated the highest interface threat to the city because of its steep slope, which “can affect the fire behaviour,” he said.
Fire Chief Tony Delmonico said he oversaw a similar wildfire fuel management program when he worked for the district of North Vancouver and vegetation clean-up “actually improved the wildlife corridors.”
Should the Ridge Park program be successful, Delmonico said he plans to apply for funding for other Coquitlam interface areas, namely Burke Mountain.