Local resident makes a difference with FireSmart

Brandy Walters

Like many community-minded leaders before her, Gwen Zwick has stepped up to protect her community from wildfire. Gwen is from the Canyon Creek Recreation Association and, along with her group, applied for the first time to FireSmart Canada and Partners in Protection to get a $500 award to host a ‘Community Wildfire Preparedness’ event.

Gwen and the Rec Association looked over the suggested projects and liked the success stories from Marten Beach and Summerwood/Gilwood Golf events – the ‘Community Cleanup & BBQ’. It’s an afternoon of people coming together to remove combustible debris (known as‘dead and down’) and pruning coniferous (needle) trees in the areas beyond homes. A yummy BBQ builds a sense of community, gives everyone food energy and celebrates a job well done.

There’s a bit of work done in advance of the Community Cleanup. Advertising, recruitment, picking up supplies, certainly, and there’s a lot of collaboration that happens behind the scenes too.

Work zones get reviewed by all interested parties, including utility companies, municipalities, railway, Forestry and other Firesmart partners. For example, the work zone in Canyon Creek (along Southshore Drive) runs parallel to the railway. CN Rail was consulted and will be sending out a work crew for the day of the event to watch out for people and the rail lines. Also, there’s prep work. Our region’s FireSmart Fire Crew and Forestry crews work together to take down hazard trees and prepare areas for the volunteers to work in safely while at the event. Thanks to all these people for looking out for our safety.

Participating in a Community Cleanup inspires homeowners to take FireSmart action on their property. We are primed to take that step with them.

For the day of the event and the week following, the FireSmart Fire Crew will be chipping plant material brought to the curbside. And the FireSmart Fire Crew will also do FireSmart Home & Yard Assessments for any interested and local residents at that time.

In 2018, 21 awards were given out across Alberta as a way of supporting local people working together to increase the protection of their homes and neighbourhoods in the event of wildfire. Within our region, six applications were awarded to various groups hosting events.

Last year, there were two Cleanup events hosted in our region (Marten Beach & Summerwood).

This year, we are happy to report three Community Cleanup & BBQs already scheduled and it’s great to see the number growing in the right direction.

Everyone is welcome to volunteer – take us up on the invitation! Join us in Canyon Creek on June 23rd, Marten Beach on August 18th and in the Summerwood subdivision on August 26th. Cleanups are scheduled from 1 – 4 p.m.

To find out more about this easy way to help out, ‘Like’ us on Facebook (events & details will be listed there) or contact Brandy Walters at 780-516-0077.

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