GFOABC Dollar & Sense Perspective Newsletter

Larry Ryan and Paula Garrecht Contributed to The GFOABC Dollar & Sense Persepctive

Larry Ryan is the President of Intact Public Entities and Paula Garrecht is a Partner, Commercial Risk Advisor and Leader of the Municipal Insurance Division at CaprisCMW

From the intense heat dome in June to the hundreds of wildfires that continue to burn out of control across much of the southern half of British Columbia, the province has been hard hit by the tragic impacts of climate change this summer.

While wildfires are nothing new for B.C., the frequency and severity of fires are increasing. And it’s only going to get worse — most communities that are threatened by wildfires are in regions whose burn areas are projected to increase by 50-200% due to climate change, according to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. 

For municipalities, risk management must include climate risk management. And in B.C., that means taking steps to protect residents from wildfires.
By increasing the number of natural infrastructure assets, implementing climate mitigation tools, investing in research and promoting education and awareness, municipalities can begin to build resiliency.

According to FireSmart Canada, there are many steps a municipality can take, from easy and inexpensive actions to more complex projects:

Natural Infrastructure Solutions
Deploying landscape and vegetation management techniques to create a community fire guard such as:

  • Planting fire-resistant trees and drought-tolerant plants
  • Creating fuel-reduced buffer zones
  • Clearing vegetation to create firebreaks
  • Digging trenches to create fuel breaks
  •  Implementing native or traditional fire management activities such as cultural burns

Priority Equipment and Systems Needs
Educating and offering incentives or subsidies to homeowners, businesses and vulnerable community members to install equipment such as: 

  • fire-retardant roofing
  • fire-resistant siding
  • non-combustible screens and safeguards
  •  Improving access to dependable water supply such as portable wildfire pumps and water tanks
  • Securing fire suppression and on-site firefighting equipment such as firefighting gear, hoses and nozzles, sprinkler systems
  • Securing propane relocation equipment

Awareness and Education

  • Enhancing fire safety apps to account for wellness checks
  • Distributing home wildfire protection materials to residents 
  • Educating/raising awareness among local businesses, commercial operations and developers to improve fire resiliency of their buildings and developments 
  • Providing interface fire risk assessments with landowners in hazardous areas

Climate resilience requires an all of society approach. To help municipalities adapt to extreme weather and keep communities safe, Intact Public Entities and the Intact Foundation are launching the Municipal Climate Resiliency Grant program on October 1. We’re investing $1 million in cities and towns that are developing practical and effective solutions to protect their communities from floods or wildfires.

For more information about the grants, please contact [email protected]

Read the GFOABC Dollar & Sense Persepctive article on page 26 and 27