All lands shown as ‘High’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Wildland’ on Schedule S are designated as a Development Permit Area for the protection of development from wildfire.
Pursuant to section 488(1)(b) of the Local Government Act, these lands are hereby designated a development permit area for protection of development from hazardous conditions; specifically wildfire. These lands are also designated under section 484 of the Local Government Act as areas in which the municipality may require development applicants to provide information on the risks of development, specifically the risk of development being damaged by or spreading wildfire.
Wildfire can result in significant economic, social and environmental losses. The municipality is 24,375 hectares in size and more than 65 per cent of this area is forested. While the probability of wildfire in Whistler is lower compared to communities in B.C.’s interior, the consequences of wildfire in Whistler could be significant given real estate values, access and evacuation constraints, population size, topography, and impacts on tourism. Whistler is expected to experience hotter and drier summers as a result of climate change, which will exacerbate both the risks and consequences of wildfire. Most of Whistler’s developed and planned urban areas are in or near the wildfire urban interface. Forested areas surrounding Whistler are also at risk because these areas are popular for outdoor recreation and resource extraction uses. Because wildfire can be triggered from structure fires and human activity, the probability of a structure fire in Whistler spreading to the surrounding forest is equal to, or greater than, the probability of a wildfire spreading from the forest into the community. Applying wildfire development permit guidelines to new development will mitigate the likelihood and consequences of all wildfire scenarios. Schedule S identifies three distinct areas where these guidelines will be applied to reduce the risk and impacts of wildfire:
- Moderate Risk Areas: These areas are typically developed areas that are not adjacent to or surrounded by forests. In these areas, key building and landscape features in the areas immediately surrounding principal buildings may be required.
- High Risk Areas: These areas are typically developed areas or developable land near or adjacent to forest. In these areas, a number of building features, landscaping, site clearing and tree thinning may be required.
- Wildland Areas: These areas are predominantly undeveloped forested areas. Urban development is not typically planned or located in these areas. However, when new development is proposed in these areas, FireSmart® Assessments may be required. This requirement also extends to resource extraction and outdoor recreation uses; but only when occupied structures (e.g., cooking/warming huts or cabins) are proposed.