What is the Resort Municipality of Whistler doing to prepare for wildfires?
Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan
The Resort Municipality of Whistler developed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan in 2011 that provided a comprehensive framework for reducing wildfire risk in our valley. The recommendations have either been completed or are ongoing such as the wildfire fuel mitigation projects and FireSmart program. In 2021, the RMOW is preparing an update, the Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan (CWRP), that will take into account what has been accomplished, what we've learned and identify our path forward.
To help inform the CWRP, the RMOW held a wildfire program workshop on June 30, 2021 to gain insight from stakeholders from the municipal Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee (including WORCA and AWARE reps), the BC Wildfire Service, Whistler Fire and Rescue Service, FireSmart, Ministry of Forests and others.
The CWRP will be completed by year end.
Watch the presentations by Dr. Lori Daniels and Bruce Blackwell from the June 30, 2021 stakeholders meeting.
Wildfire fuel reduction
Fuel reduction -reducing the amount of highly combustible organic matter such as trees, woody debris and ground cover- is an important component of Whistler’s wildfire protection program.
The municipality is focused on:
- Fuel thinning projects to reduce fuels in high priority forested areas near neighbourhoods or critical municipal infrastructure.
- Create fuel breaks along forest service roads.
Learn more about fuel thinning projects and fuel breaks.
Home and property owners also have a critical role to play in reducing Whistler's wildfire risk.
The FireSmart Program provides education and practical support to homeowners to reduce the impact of wildfires on their properties.
The RMOW’s FireSmart coordinator and Whistler Fire Rescue Service delivers:
- Fuel reduction projects (including Adopt-a-trail, community chipper days, and FireSmart treatments on municipal properties)
- Education and resources
- Free FireSmart home and strata property assessments
Fire danger ratings
Whistler’s current Fire Danger Rating is updated daily by the BC Wildfire Service.
Backyard burning is not allowed in Whistler. A permit is required for all campfires in Whistler. Permits are only granted once the Fire Department has done a site visit to determine a campfire will not pose at threat to the community.
Some construction activities are restricted and campfires are banned when the rating is High or Extreme.
The municipality’s Emergency Program works with other local first response agencies to develop and implement plans to prepare for, respond to and recover from large-scale emergencies, including wildfires.
The RMOW Emergency Program and Whistler Fire Rescue Service lead and participate in regular training exercises along with community partners and other agencies to test systems, improve communication and build capacity for responding to emergencies such as wildfires.