Vancouver Park Board to look at updating Stanley Park’s forest fire plan

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation’s strategy to mitigate forest fires in Stanley Park hasn’t been updated in over a decade, and one commissioner is hoping to change that.

Tom Digby, the only Vancouver Green Party commissioner on the ABC Vancouver-majority board, says the Forest Management Plan for Vancouver’s crown jewel hasn’t been updated since 2009.

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He says that due to a rise in climate-related events, he’s putting forward a motion to ask staff to take another look at the plan.

“The forest at Stanley Park, we think is at risk. We think there’s a potential for significant forest fire there caused by the dryness and the drought that we’re of the seasons we’re having here, the long summer, hot summer seasons,” the commissioner said.

“The motion is really a request for the park board staff to upgrade our assessment and evaluation of the risks of forest fire in Stanley Park and taking all proposals for all steps to mitigate that risk.”

Digby says the Hemlock looper moth has killed about 20 per cent of the forest canopy in Stanley Park, adding that the dead trees would burn very easily.

“We’re anxious that there’s a lot of fuel for a potential fire,” he noted. “You’re not allowed to smoke in our parks but people do it all the time and they may not be aware of the risk that’s causing to the whole forest in the park.”

Part of Digby’s motion involves including Indigenous perspectives on how to mitigate fire risk in the park, which was not done in the last update 14 years ago.

“Historically, Stanley Park was subject to small fires all the time. Indigenous folks really understand the role of fire in maintaining a natural forest habitat. We’ve completely suppressed that in Stanley Park which leads to this tremendous fire load and fuel that’s built up all through the park,” he explained.

The Park Board will discuss the motion at its next meeting on Monday.

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