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Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors express desire for earlier fire bans

Sicamous’ Mind your Butts! campaign urges people to be mindful when discarding cigarettes
While Category 2 and 3 open fires are prohibited until further notice in the Kamloops Fire Centre, Category 1 campfires were still allowed as of Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Pixabay/Artem Apukhtin photo)

Unable to influence an earlier campfire ban, regional district directors hope to impress upon the public the need for caution during wildfire season.

The subject of provincial fire bans made it on the agenda for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board’s May 18 meeting at the request of Sicamous director and Mayor Colleen Anderson, who asked to talk about how the CSRD might trigger a fire ban sooner. To this, administrator John MacLean said there’s no opportunity for local government to do so.

“We traditionally rely on the province – the province has a very strict science-based model, based on fuel loads, temperature and everything like that,” said MacLean, adding that Category 2 and 3 open fires are now prohibited in the Kamloops Fire Centre. “The only thing allowed right now is a campfire, and it’s been my experience over the years that the province will not ban campfires until they absolutely have to.”

Chair Kevin Flynn suggested the board could tell the province it would like to see fire bans implemented sooner.

“Because I believe campfire bans should happen sooner,” he added.

With the board meeting taking place at the Falkland Community Hall just before the May long weekend, Electoral Area A (Rural Golden) director Karen Cathcart said she’d received calls from residents asking for signs that could be put up around the community urging caution.

“Here’s the thing – in Area A, I would not be surprised if people make their own makeshift signs and put them all over the community and that’s what will probably happen because that’s how close it is for them,” said Cathcart.

Electoral Area E director (Rural Sicamous, Malakwa, Swansea Point) commented on the signs she saw driving to the Falkland hall.

“I was quite impressed with all the signs,” said Martin. “This area has been hit hard many times with fires and I think that it’s very close in people’s thoughts, especially when we’re getting smoked in from Alberta. Let’s hope that with the smoke will come the caution on people’s minds.”

Electoral Area G (Blind Bay, Sorrento, Notch Hill) director Natalya Melnychuk asked if the regional district could help raise fire awareness through a news release. Anderson supported that approach, suggesting consistent messaging throughout the regional district. She noted the District of Sicamous has been running a Mind your Butts! campaign to remind people fires caused by discarded cigarettes and other smoking materials are preventable.

“People are still throwing their cigarette butts outside their window as they’re driving along – in this day and age it’s insane,” said Anderson.

Flynn said the CSRD would “do what we can do, even though we don’t control fire bans.”

Read more: Summer-like B.C. already at ‘core fire season’ in parts of the province

Read more: Viewpoint: Out-of-hand open burn, wildfires spark concern for B.C.’s approach to bans
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