Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

RISK REDUCTION – The Copper Haul Road past Mount Sima is to undergo fire break work.

Fire abatement work’s budget finalized

City council has readjusted its fuel abatement and FireSmart budget to mesh with a three year-contract award to Lane’s Yukon Yardworks for $511,000.

By Chuck Tobin on July 12, 2019

City council has readjusted its fuel abatement and FireSmart budget to mesh with a three year-contract award to Lane’s Yukon Yardworks for $511,000.

In something of a paper shuffle, council was required Monday evening to bring forward funding already identified for 2020 and 2021 to fully fund the abatement and FireSmart project – even though the work will be conducted over the three years, including this year.

Acting city fire chief Chris Green had explained to members of council July 2 there are five priority areas identified in the abatement project.

• Priorities one and two call for clear-cutting along the Copper Haul Road to establish a fire break, with work to begin this year.

The clear-cutting will remove fuel from 25 metres from the centre line on each side of the road.

The first section is five kilometres running from the McLean Lake quarry to Mount Sima.

The second section is six kilometres, running from the Mount Sima pumphouse near the ski hill to the Cowley Creek quarry.

• Priority three is clear-cutting a 1.2-kilometre stretch to create a fire break along the McLean Lake Road. The project will begin approximately 400 metres from the roundabout on Hamilton Boulevard and run to the McLean Lake quarry.

• Priority four is FireSmarting 12 hectares along the south edge of Riverdale – to be done in the winter, when the ground is frozen.

FireSmarting involves reducing the fuel load instead of clear-cutting.

FireSmarting will create a minimum three-metre distance between trees, with limbing of the remaining trees up two metres from the ground.

• Priority five is FireSmarting 12 hectares along the south edge of the Cowley Creek subdivision.

Green told council in both the clear-cutting and FireSmarting areas, trees of four inches or greater in diameter will be stacked and left for the public to take.

Smaller trees and brush will be chipped, with the chips going to the Whitehorse composting facility – which needs the chips to assist with composting and quality of product.

“I feel we got the biggest bang for the buck, and it gave us a price schedule we did not have before now,” the acting chief told council last week of the bid received from Lane’s. He didn’t have the price schedule at his finger tips.

Council was told Monday night the cost of clear-cutting is $4,700 per hectare.

FireSmarting is $11,000 because it is much more labour-intensive, compared to the clear-cutting with machines.

The administrative report to council noted the priority areas were identified based on recommendations from the Whitehorse West Landscape-Level Fuel Management Plan and the Whitehorse Fuel Management Plan.

Comments (2)

Up 9 Down 4

Miles Emerson on Jul 14, 2019 at 11:38 pm

The fire breaks should be many times wider than the clearing which is planned.

Why not some burns to widen the areas. Many people would like to know more about how firefighters would hold the line. Details on where they would likely setup and where they would get water etc., would be helpful.

Up 16 Down 7

Max Mack on Jul 13, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Sounds to me like an awful lot of trees and bushes will be removed . . . an awful lot of CO2-storing vegetation. Given the ridiculous clamour coming from City Hall about CO2 emissions, one would think they would want to save that vegetation at any cost. As another poster commented once upon a time, how many ways can they thread the needle?

Everyone should be warned that if that dreaded extreme fire situation should ever arise, these expensive fire breaks and tree-thinning projects will probably do nothing to stop such a fast moving fire.

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