Community Wildfire Protection Plan
Our Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is helping us prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfires, particularly in areas where our community meets the forest (the 'wildland urban interface').
The plan — supported by a wildfire risk management system that evaluates a variety of factors that contribute to the probability or consequence of wildfire — contains 38 recommendations for improving our emergency response and training, community education, emergency communications, building practices, and more, to make the District as fire safe as possible.
Read the plan in detail
News and updates
Late 2017 — Plan update
In late 2017, we will begin updating the plan to reflect all of the work that has been accomplished over the 10 years since it was created, to re-consider fire risk in a changing climate, and to plan for new actions to increase community resilience to wildfires. Fuel management is ongoing.
June 20, 2016 — Staff update to Council
Staff met with Council to update them on our progress implementing the recommendations in the plan. Staff reported that substantial progress had been made, with 36 of the 38 recommendations complete.
May 24 & 26, 2016 — Emergency response training
We, along with our partner agencies, held a series of emergency response training exercises called Operation Dry Lightning II. The purpose of these exercises was to enhance wildfire response and coordination among agencies, test multi-agency response, refine communications among crews, other stakeholders, and the emergency centre, practice evacuation strategies, and improve media management.
2012 — Wildfire Hazard Development Permit Area (DPA) adopted by Council
We developed a Wildfire Hazard Development Permit Area to help minimize the risk to property and people from wildfire hazards, minimize the risk of fire to the District's forests, make fires easier to contain and suppress, and reduce the risk of post-fire landslides, debris flows, and erosion.
July 4, 2011 — Update to Council
Staff provided an update to Council regarding progress made in implementing the recommendations in the CWPP.
June 11, 2008 — Emergency response training
We held a full-scale functional exercise, called Operation Dry Lightning, to practice interagency response to a wildland-urban interface fire. Participants included the District of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service, Metro Vancouver, Ministry of Forests & Range Protection, BC Ambulance Service, the RCMP, and others.
May 14, 2007 — Plan presented to Council
Staff presented the draft Community Wildfire Protection Plan to Council, and asked for direction from Council on the 38 recommendations in the plan. Council directed staff to implement the recommendations in the CWPP.
About the wildland urban interface
The wildland urban interface (WUI) is where the forest meets the community. Fire can spread from the forest into the community, or from the community into the forest. Although these two scenarios are quite different, they are of equal importance when considering interface fire risk.
Within the District, the probability of a fire moving out of the community and into the forest is equal to or greater than the probability of fire moving from the forest into the community.
Regardless of which scenario occurs, there will be consequences for the District, and this will have an impact on the way in which our community plans and prepares for interface fires.
Evaluating the risk of fire
To complete the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, we first developed a wildfire risk management system, which identified the aspects of our natural environment that contribute to wildfire risk.
The WRMS identified that the core area of the District is at moderate to high risk from wildfire. However, there are areas where the probability of wildfire is extreme, and public safety, and many of the important facilities and structures, could be severely impacted by a major fire.
Creating an action plan
The Community Wildfire Protection Plan contains an action plan that provides recommendations for addressing five elements.
Full details of the action plan — including goals, objectives, risks, and recommendations for each of the elements — starts on page 24 of the plan document.
Key elements of the plan
The plan consists of these five key elements:
1. Communication and education
Minimizing fire risk in the interface zone requires the coordination and cooperation of many levels of government and government agencies. District residents must also be aware of fire risk reduction within interface areas if prevention programs are to be effective.
2. Structure protection
Structure protection focuses on ensuring that building materials and construction standards (such as roofing, siding, glazing, eaves, decks, and vents) are appropriate to protect individual homes from interface fire.
3. Emergency response
When planning emergency response, it is important to consider a wide range of issues, including evacuation strategies, access for emergency vehicles and equipment, management of utility hazards associated with hydroelectric and gas infrastructure, and the reliability and availability of key fire fighting infrastructure during a fire.
Practicing interagency communication, emergency operations, and evacuation strategies will ensure effective response during a real emergency.
5. Fuel (vegetation) management
Fuel management activities reduce surface fuels and creates a buffer between the forest and the community. This buffer will slow the spread of a fire.
Documents and resources
June 20, 2016 update to Council
- Staff report to Council (starts on page 7)
- Staff presentation to Council
- Video of the Council workshop
- Minutes of the Council workshop
July 4, 2011 update to Council
May 14, 2007 presentation to Council
Fire safe information
The need for a plan
Social, economic, and environmental losses from the 2003 fire season emphasized the need for greater consideration and due diligence regarding fire risk in the wildland urban interface (WUI).
In 2006, B.A. Blackwell and Associates Ltd. were retained to help us, the GVRD, and eight other member municipalities develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans. "FireSmart – Protecting Your Community from Wildfire" (Partners in Protection 2004) was used to guide the protection planning process.
Considering wildfire risk
In considering wildfire risk in the WUI, it is important to understand the specific risk profile of a given community, which can be defined by the probability and the associated consequence of fire within that community.
While the probability of fire in coastal communities is substantially lower when compared to the interior of British Columbia, the consequences of a large fire are likely to be very significant in lower mainland interface communities given population size, values at risk, and environmental considerations.
The impacts of climate change
Our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy identifies the frequency and severity of wildfires due to longer, drier, and warmer summers as a top thread to the District.
We also anticipate that invasive species will become more prevalent due to climate change, which will decrease forest health and result in the forest being more susceptible to a rapidly spreading wildfire.
Post-fire, steep terrain will be highly vulnerable to landslides and debris flows, due to increased runoff.