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Plan aims to protect popular trails

Logging for profit not on the table

One of Powell River’s de facto parks, the maze of trails near Penticton Street, will not be logged, said Powell River city councillor Russell Brewer.

“I just wanted to bring it up again because I got phone calls on it,” said Brewer, “people panicking that we were going to log the Penticton forest area.”

The councillor raised the issue again at Tuesday, September 29’s committee of the whole meeting.

Brewer was away with leave when the topic was discussed at a mid-August committee of the whole meeting, and he told council the discussion of how to improve fire safety was taken out of context.

City staff were directed in mid-August to develop a plan for fire blocking and selective logging of all city-owned forest lands.

But the direction to staff should have been to identify high-priority forested lands owned by the city which could undergo fire-blocking treatment, a process of removing debris and potential fuel from the forest floor, trimming low hanging branches and removing smaller trees, he said.

Brewer added that most of the trail network in the Penticton woods is actually on Crown land, not the city’s.

A community wildfire plan for Powell River region is in the final stages of completion. That plan, a high-level look at fire risk in the region, lays out a number of recommendations for improving wildfire safety, including fire-blocking through fuel mitigation.

Powell River Fire Rescue chief Dan Oullette told council at the meeting that work between his department and Ryan Thoms, emergency manager for Powell River Regional District, is moving forward.

“The goal is to have the framework in place before next season so there can be a higher level of comfort,” said Oullette.

“[Fire blocking] is not something that we would do to make money,” said Brewer. “It’s something we would do in response to the plan to fireproof areas that have been deemed to be potential high risk. There’s obviously lots of housing in the area.”

With the recent forest fire season taxing provincial resources, Premier Christy Clark announced $10 million more for community-wildfire protection, money that local government will be able to apply to use.

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