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The City of Yellowknife and Government of the Northwest Territories are working together to prevent the spread of wildfire to area properties – among the biggest natural threats to residents.

The municipality issued a news release on Sept. 25 announcing that the two levels of government are promoting a new app called ‘FireSmart Begins at Home’ that will provide information to residents to protect their properties from wildfire. The app will allow for people to self-assess the safety of their homes and help with taking care of such things as clearing deadfall, dead standing brush and pine needles, and removing limbs from trees.

The app also features Debris Pickup events taking place in certain neighbourhoods of the city from Oct. 5-8.

The Fire Smart Canada website provides several tools to help with wildfire mitigation, including an app that can be downloaded. The City of Yellowknife is promoting the use of the app by property owners and is acting on its community wildfire plan to identify areas in the city that might pose the most risk to wildfire spreading.
image sourced from FireSmart Canada

During Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 4-10, the city has been making an effort to get residents involved in leaving collected debris for free pickup that includes deadwood, tree limbs and brush. Leaves and grass clippings are not included.

Residents have been asked to fill out a pickup form and have their collected debris on the curb before 7 a.m on the days assigned.

Monday pickup took place in Grace Lake, Hall Crescent and Frame Lake South. Tuesday had pickup in Range Lake North and Northlands.

Eric Bussey, director of public safety, said Fire Prevention Week brings an opportunity to generate awareness about some of the demands for fire safety throughout the city and the ongoing threat that wildfire can pose to properties.

“We had seven pickups this week,” Bussey said Wednesday with regards to the debris pickup. “As a small program, this is something that we’re doing with support from the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources and I really think that’s a good collaboration.”

Continued pickup this week 

Continued pickups of debris will continue on Taylor Road, Matonabee Street, School Draw Avenue and Con Place on Wednesday.  On Thursday, there will be pickup in Niven, Old Town, Latham Island and Ndilo.

The city is asking residents to tie together their collected debris at no longer than two metres or six feet in length

“Residents are encouraged to include before and after pictures with their Debris Pick-Up form,” adds the release.

City of Yellowknife fuel reduction strategy

The city also announced that to combat the threat of wildfires, it’s moving ahead with its wildfire protection plan.

Last May, Bussey introduced the updated plan, which identifies specific high-risk areas around the city. The municipality sees these areas as needing vegetation reduction to lower the threat of forest fires spreading to homes and other structures.

The city states that areas like the greenspace behind Mandeville Drive and Finlayson Drive will be targeted for reducing risk of spread and ‘firesmarting.’

The full Community Wildfire Protection Plan can be read here.

“The work will resume behind Mandeville Drive and will end at the sliding hill at Parker Park,” states the city’s news release. “These activities are based on recommendations outlined in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  Workers will be in the area with hand and power tools and the public is asked to avoid the area while work is being carried out.”

Bussey makes an effort every fall to ensure public lands on the perimeter of the community are firesmart and safe from the spread of infernos.

“We’re looking at continuing the work we did the last couple of years, around Parker Park, and then the Hordal Road area,” Bussey said. “We’re looking at continuing to work that western flank to reduce the fire threat of fires moving into Yellowknife from the west. That’s our highest priority.”

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Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University...

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