Wildfire smoke from the south lingers low over Salmon Arm’s Blackburn Park while Mount Ida in the background is completely shrouded in smoke. (File photo)

Wildfire smoke from the south lingers low over Salmon Arm’s Blackburn Park while Mount Ida in the background is completely shrouded in smoke. (File photo)

Column: Wildfires front and centre for municipalities

Council Report by City of Salmon Arm Coun. Tim Lavery

First of all, here’s to the amazing efforts of firefighting professionals, community responders, local government staff and residents in our current wildfire situation. You are the best and our heartfelt thanks go to each one of you.

The wildfire risk will obviously continue to be very high in the weeks ahead so please remain prepared, cautious in your activities and safe.

There’s a lot of good information on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s website (csrd.bc.ca) and social media channels. You can get timely wildfire updates, download the Alertable app for emergency notifications and find simple steps to FireSmart your home even now.

Other regular local government functions still continue amidst our wildfire situation.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities, the provincial conference for local governments, takes place virtually again in the second week of September. Salmon Arm council will meet with provincial ministers on a wide range of key matters for the city. While important policy and workshop sessions will also be held, resourcing for wildfires and increased mitigation of Crown land, urban interface and city fire risks are sure to be front and centre topics. There’s a recognition that the increasing impacts of climate change means that previous references of a ‘new normal’ are indeed now the actual normal. There’s much more work to be done on this for sure.

Read more: Discarded cigarette blamed for Salmon Arm roadside fire

Read more: Extreme smoke hampers aerial firefighting efforts at Two Mile wildfire near Sicamous

Preparations for Salmon Arm’s 2022 budget are also underway.

Staff are now starting on draft departmental budgets. There’ll be an opportunity for public input into the budget at 7 p.m. on Sept. 20. Council will review the full budget in late November in a special council meeting, and then formally adopt the 2022 budget in mid-December. There’ll be specific updates on all these matters over the weeks ahead but rest assured the normal functioning of the city continues, even though it’s summer and wildfire season.

Finally, I’d like to give a major shout out to how residents have responded to our significant challenges of the past 18 months. Your support of initiatives for the overall good of Salmon Arm, be they public health recommendations, payment of taxes, support of each other or being FireSmart, has made a real difference. What a great community!

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