Fire prevention is top of mind for electoral area directors in the Regional District of Nanaimo.
After endorsing the community wildfire resiliency plans for each electoral area, the electoral area services committee unanimously passed a motion to review the RDN’s park use regulations bylaw “for its effectiveness for fire prevention in community and regional parks, including the implications of usage and camping at these parks that may require future amendments of the bylaw.”
The motion was introduced by the director for Electoral Area H (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River), Lehann Wallace. In its current form, the bylaw includes a schedule of parks where homeless camping is prohibited, a total of 111 parks, including 28 in Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy). Wallace said the schedule of exceptions makes the bylaw difficult to manage, adding that the community wildfire resiliency plans provide new information on which RDN properties should have the highest priority for implementing fire prevention tools.
“I think a review of the bylaw is very timely,” Wallace said; “certainly a review of the properties through the lens of wildfire resiliency plans would be an important opportunity.”
The bylaw also stipulates use of fire, smoking, vaping and fireworks.
RDN manager of parks, Yann Gagnon, told the committee that staff would likely start with reviewing the schedule of properties that prohibit homeless camping.
“There’s already a provision that would allow for closure temporarily in a park in light of a hazard.… Maybe we can review that section and schedule and look at how to adapt or review [the bylaw] in light of fire prevention in community or regional parks.”
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder