Canadians are resilient – we’ve got wild weather and mosquitoes as big as helicopters.
So when 161 groups that received $500 awards from FireSmart Canada had to postpone Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities, or come up with creative ways to distance during COVID-19 restrictions, they didn’t miss a beat.
In the Copper Ridge neighbourhood near the capital city of Whitehorse, in the northern territory of Yukon, residents worked two metres (six feet) apart while cleaning up seven wooded areas over several days, and completed the project with a chipper on June 1.
Copper Ridge organizer Jeff Nordlund posted photos and video on Facebook. “Yes!!!” Nordlund said. “Hamilton Boulevard brushed in 2.5 hours. Way to go team!!”
To accommodate physical distancing and restrictions on large gatherings, the Southview Co-op neighbourhood group in Jasper, Alberta, completed several clean-ups over a couple of months rather than one larger event, said organizer Garth Lemke.
“The Southview Co-op has done five small-group, four-to-six people work bees since May to make sure we are FireSmart ready,” Lemke said in an email to FireSmart Canada on July 1.
The Polar Peak Lodges community at the Fernie Alpine Resort in British Columbia completed its work bee on June 20. Resident Barb Smeed said in an email to FireSmart on July 9 that the work bee events are tremendous community builders.
“It is really rewarding to see the volunteers working with such enthusiasm,” Smeed said, “and to hear all their positive comments about the FireSmart initiative.”
So far, dozens of fire departments, neighbourhood groups, and Indigenous communities have rescheduled prep day activities for July, August, September or October. Some award recipients managed to complete events in May and June, and a handful have postponed until 2021 simply because of personnel commitments during lockdown.
Since 2014, FireSmart Canada has collaborated with NFPA, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction and The Co-operators to drive wildfire resiliency efforts and help homeowners keep their properties safe.