Council divided on FireSmart

Seeks community input

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

On August 18, the Town of Slave Lake held a public hearing on FireSmart amendments to a bylaw. If passed these will make FireSmart precautions mandatory for new and relocated buildings in some areas and optional in others. No one from the community commented on the proposed changes. The bill passed first reading. However, in order to give people more time to comment on the proposal, second and third readings will be on September 15.

Laurie Skrynyk presented the FireSmart proposed amendments to Land Use Bylaw #22-2007. Studies into the 2011 Slave Lake Fire, found that fuel sources near buildings was one of the main reason some houses burned and others didn’t. Since then, Slave Lake has been a leader in FireSmart.
The proposal divides Slave Lake into Zones A and B.

Zone A is town between Highway 2 and 88. Zone B is east of 88 and southwest of 2. Zone B has greater risk of wildfire.

If the amendment passes, wildfire risk assessments will be mandatory in Zone B and optional in Zone A. Should the assessment recommend fire-resistant building material such as asphalt shingles and stucco siding, these recommendations will be required in Zone B and optional in Zone A.

There are also amendments to do with landscaping and other FireSmart measures.

Council was divided on the amendments.

Councillor Rebecca King was for adopting the amendments.

“A lot of well educated people worked on this,” she said. “This is just one more step to make us progressive.”

Mayor Tyler Warman was undecided.

“FireSmart is definitely near and dear to our heart,” he said. However, mandating FireSmart in the 15 per cent of the land closest to the forest, might deter development. He’s conflicted, but thinks the best two options are either to go with the amendments as proposed or make Zone A and B the same.

Counsellor Brice Ferguson said he’d built his house with FireSmart and it added 5 per cent to the cost. He thinks A and B should be the same.

Counsellor Darin Busk was against legislating FireSmart, saying people who wish to live near the forest are “taking on extra risk. We can make suggestions.” The land currently impacted by the changes are of the most expensive houses in the area and adding five to 10 per cent to make them FireSmart might make building too expensive.

The bylaw amendment is available on the Town’s website.

The process started in 2017, but was because of wildfires and COVID-19.

Share this post

Post Comment