Terminology touches on forest fire hazard

Terminology touches on forest fire hazard

17 October 2013

published by www.cottagecountrynow.ca

Canada — Fire risk where urban areas meet open wilderness is unique enough to have its own term.

It’s called urban-wildland interface fire load.

Bill Beatty, a member of the Town of Huntsville’s committee of adjustment, pointed out the term during a committee meeting on Aug. 14 in a minor variance application for a property at 50 Fish Rock Rd. on the shore of Lake Waseosa.

“I noticed, under the Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association comments, a new phrase I haven’t seen,” said Beatty. “I wonder if anyone else has heard that particular phrase.”

Chris Marshall, director of planning and sustainability, said that urban-wildland interface fire load was taken very seriously in British Columbia, where he worked before moving to Huntsville.

“It was required in certain setbacks on homes that you cleared (space) so you had that buffer around a home to save a home in case a fire came through,” said Marshall. “With the drier, hotter summers, fires were a big issue in British Columbia. It was actually day-to-day planning to ensure you had trees setback a certain distance to avoid sparks landing on roofs.”

Beatty asked if urban-wildland interface fire load was affected by a building’s proximity to a crest of a hill.

“The (proposed building) is close to the crest and the ratepayers’ association wants it moved away from the top of the hill,” commented Beatty.

Marshall noted that wind coming off a lake can quickly push wildfire uphill.

“So, if your house is set back from the crest, it’s safer,” he said.

Stephen Fahner, of Northern Vision Planning, said his client, the property owner, planned to replace the existing 874-square foot house with a 2,041-square foot home.

The new one-and-a-half storey dwelling will be the same distance from Lake Waseosa as the existing building, which is setback from the shoreline about 16.27 metres.

The town’s official plan requires a general 20-metre setback.

But Fahner suggested the development would not put the lake at greater risk.

“Lake Waseosa has low phosphorus sensitivity and is not over saturated,” he said.

And the lot coverage will be slightly greater than the five per cent maximum at 5.98 per cent because the property owner wants to build the new house and add a 351-square foot deck.

A minor variance was needed to allow the decreased setback and additional lot coverage.

Neighbours did not express any objections. Committee approved the application.

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