Dear Gold River Community Member
The purpose of this post is to update you on some of the emergency preparedness initiatives taking place over the next 18 months.
The majority of the projects mentioned in this letter are 100% funded by the Union of BC Municipalities Community Emergency Preparedness Fund grant program and I would like to thank both the Strathcona Regional District for the administrative support their staff provide the Village with applying for and managing these grants as well as the Mowachaht / Muchalaht First Nation for their collaborate approach to emergency management.
If you are concerned about how wildfires and other disasters may impact Gold River, the best way to address that is by becoming involved in our emergency program. Currently, our biggest challenge isn’t access to funding or administrative support, it’s a lack of trained Public Safety Lifeline Volunteers.
If you see yourself wishing to contribute to the response capacity and resiliency of our beautiful Village, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We could always use more volunteers for our:
- Fire Department;
- Emergency Support Services team;
- Disaster Communications team; and
- Animal Response Team.
Evacuation Guidelines Update
The Mowachaht / Muchalaht First Nation intends to use this grant to develop an Evacuation Route and Public Notification Plan in partnership with the Village of Gold River (with Strathcona Regional District providing in-kind contribution) with a focus on wildfires and tsunamis.
Wildfire Risk Reduction Initiatives
The Village of Gold River has secured funding to:
- Procure a trailer and Structural Protection Unit (SPU);
- Provide wildfire training to the valuable members of the Gold River Fire Department;
- Offer free residential curbside wood debris removal (chipping) program in the Spring of 2024;
- Lay a 1.5-meter non-combustible zone (crush) behind the Jack Christensen Centre and remove vegetation as required for this location to house the Disaster Communications Seacan (more details about this project are provided below); and
- Undertake FireSmart Renovations at the Public Works Storage Building by removing the vegetation at the back of the building and replacing the plywood siding with steel siding.
Structure Protection Units contain gear such as pumps, hoses, sprinklers, and water delivery attachments and tools. One of the most important tactics used in structure protection is to create a “humidity bubble” around a structure. This is done by running sprinklers on and around a structure. Adding moisture to the air increases the relative humidity and reduces the chance that embers and burning debris ignite structures within the bubble. In addition to setting up a humidity bubble around the structure, crews can use the hoses and sprinklers to set up a “wet line” to slow or stop an advancing ground fire.
The Strathcona Regional District is currently in the process of hiring a Regional Wildfire Risk Reduction Coordinator, fully funded through a grant, to provide additional support to all Electoral Areas, First Nations, and municipalities in the SRD.
It is especially important that all community members comprehend the wildfire risk in Gold River. Our Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is available at https://srd.ca/services/emergency-preparedness/wildfireplans-maps and you can watch a complementary video about the plan on the SRD Emergency Program’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/@strathconardemergencyprogr4405
The Village has also completed Wildfire Fuel Management Prescriptions on the following areas:
- 2.0ha of Village-owned land adjacent to the mobile home park (Treatment Area #1 in CWPP);
- 4.4ha of Village-owned land adjacent to Peppercorn Park Trail (Treatment Area #3 in CWPP);
- 2.7ha of Village-owned land adjacent to Herber River (Treatment Area #4 in CWPP); and
- 5.5ha of Village-owned land adjacent to the golf course (Treatment Area #6 CWPP).
A wildfire fuel prescription is a document that describes the recommended fuel treatment activities in an identified area that will reduce fire behaviour. It is expected that the post-treatment stand conditions will result in reduced fire behaviour such as a decrease in fire intensity and the potential for sustained ignition. Fuel management prescriptions must ensure a costeffective
and measurable reduction in expected fire behaviour with the consideration and management of other values on the landscape. A sound fuel management prescription follows three guiding principles: (1) it prescribes specific and measurable targets for fire behaviour reduction; (2) it contains site-specific considerations; and (3) it aligns with other legal, resource management, and non-statutory objectives including First Nation consultation requirements.
The Village intends to pursue future funding to undertake wildfire fuel management in these areas, similar to the management project that was previously completed adjacent to the Village office.
We intend to relocate our High-Frequency Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS) radio antenna from the roof of Gold River Secondary School to a custom-designed ‘Radio Room Seacan’ that will be placed behind the Jack Christensen Centre. Behind the JCC was chosen as an optimal location due to the fact that:
- Emergency Support Services is already headquartered here;
- The Village owns this property; and
- A professional electrician recommended this location above all other potential options due to the ability to connect the seacan to regular power from the JCC.
By utilizing a custom-designed ‘Radio Room Seacan’ Gold River will have a better chance of communicating after a major disaster such as an earthquake because this facility will have:
- Off-grid solar power and battery backup
- Better chance of suffering the structural damage earthquakes cause to buildings.