The fires in Okanagan Mountain Park continue to burn. - Sandy Baldwin/Capital News

Evacuation plan is key to Kelowna’s wildfire readiness

Years of suppressed fire and fuel buildup has led to a higher risk of severe fires when they occur

A report going to city council Monday (Aug. 8) finds Kelowna continues to face “challenging and pressing wildfire risk.”

An update to the Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan cites the natural environment and development into the wildland-urban interface as reasons.

“Years of suppressed fire and fuel buildup has led to a higher risk of severe fires when they occur, resulting in an increased impact to landscape and more difficult conditions for suppression,” the report says.

Climate change is singled out as having a major impact on fire behaviour, especially in an extended drought and higher summer temperatures.

Wildfires pose a risk to several areas of the city that are near forest or grassland, or through ember showers that can travel up to two kilometres, according to the plan. These areas require comprehensive wildfire mitigation actions.

The city completed its first Community Wildlife Protection Plan (CWPP) in 2004, following the devastating 2003 wildfire season. It was a response to recommendations made by the FireStorm 2003 Provincial Review.

Updates to the plan were done in 2011 and 2016.

The updated resiliency plan notes the city has completed several priority items, including a dedicated FireSmart webpage and updating its Urban Forest Management Strategy.

Priority items for completion over the next five years include the completion of a municipal evacuation plan.

READ MORE: Nohomin creek wildfire near Lytton slows with cooler weather

READ MORE: Rain, cooler temperatures give B.C. wildfire fighters a brief reprieve


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City CouncilCity of KelownawildfireWildfire season