Canadian Underwriter

Alberta government provides $15M a year for FireSmart program, up from $3.8M last year

April 17, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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The Government of Alberta has announced it is providing $15 million a year for its FireSmart program, up from $3.8 million last year, to help communities boost their wildfire protection activities.

Minister Oneil Carlier (right) meets with Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Acting Mayor Phil Meagher (centre) and Agriculture and Forestry staff (left) at the Fort McMurray warehouse and airtanker base. Credit: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

FireSmart uses preventative measures to reduce wildfire threat to Albertans and their communities, while balancing the benefits of wildfire on the landscape, said background information from Alberta Wildfire. FireSmart is a nationwide program that helps municipalities and residents reduce the risk of wildfire in their communities. Funds help communities develop tools and tactics related to education, vegetation management, legislation and planning, development considerations, interagency co-operation and emergency planning.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry said in a press release last week that the FireSmart program will receive $45 million over the next three years, including $10.5 million for fire prevention work in the Fort McMurray area.

Over the past five years, the FireSmart program has invested more than $35 million to help 95 communities develop FireSmart initiatives in their municipalities.

Oneil Carlier, the provincial Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, said in the release that “the past few years have shown us that we need to do everything we can to help reduce the risk of wildfire. The FireSmart program is one tool in the toolbox to help us protect our homes and communities from the threat of wildfire.”

Last week, the government also announced that it was investing about $13.4 million to help the City of Calgary boost its flood readiness.

Alberta Environment and Parks said that the projects will protect downtown Calgary and neighbouring communities during flooding and stormwater events. Approximately $9.8 million will go to two pump station projects in Calgary’s Sunnyside neighbourhood and to the construction of a new flood-dedicated pump station, the ministry reported in a statement.

Another $1.7 million will be directed to flood resilience improvements at a sanitary lift station in the Roxboro neighbourhood, while the West Eau Claire flood barrier will get another $740,000. An additional $567,000 will support improvements to the Harvie Passage site, which will allow open-gate conditions to reduce risks to Inglewood, the Calgary Zoo and the Deerfoot light rail transit line.

Lastly, the City of Calgary will receive $522,500 through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, which funds the improvement and creation of wetlands, restoration of riparian areas, as well as education, outreach and the implementation of best management practices.

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