Interior Mayors Conference

December 07, 2006 13:00 ET

Interior Mayors Demand Federal Funding to Eliminate Pine Beetle Wildfire Risk on Private Property

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 7, 2006) - The mayors of B.C.'s three largest interior cities are demanding the Federal Government provide financial assistance to thousands of homeowners who must spend millions of dollars removing trees killed by the mountain pine beetle infestation from their property. They say the dead and dying pine trees that dominate their cities pose an enormous hazard.

The mayors of Kamloops Prince George and Kelowna are concerned that none of the $1 billion earmarked by the Federal Government for the pine beetle disaster will go for removal of trees on private land within their cities.

"Kamloops council is concerned that the cost of removing beetle-killed trees is daunting and out of reach for many citizens on limited incomes," says Kamloops mayor Terry Lake. "Leaving these trees in place puts our community at enormous risk from wildfires and our residents at personal risk from falling trees."

There are currently no programs available to help municipal residents with the costs to cut down dead beetle infested trees with the exception of the federal program for landowners with more than 10 ha of land.

There are up to 30,000 infested trees in private property within the City of Kamloops. Disposal costs are estimated at $24 million. In Prince George, 90 per cent of the pine trees in the city are infested. The city has been combating the mountain pine beetle infestation for the past four years expending more than $2.5 million of municipal taxpayer funds to remove over 500 logging truck loads from parks and greenbelts.

Prince George, in partnership with Service Canada, has provided limited support to residents for the removal of tree debris once residents pay for the tree removal. The estimated cost for removing infested trees from city lots is $17 million. Many residents are elderly and can't afford the cost of removing these trees.

The City of Kelowna has approximately 3,000 ha of pure pine forest, mostly on private land. This does not include mixed species stands or the thousands of pine trees on private city lots or on private land within the Regional District of Central Okanagan. The removal and disposal of a single pine can cost $2,000 is beyond the reach of many residents.

"We have suffered the effects of huge wildfires within our City borders and are doing all we can on city property to prevent a recurrence of Firestorm 2003," says Kelowna mayor Sharon Shepherd. "We need to aid our residents in this battle and reduce the impacts which can include environmental and drainage issues, tourism, waste management and even air quality."

In an open letter dated November 29, 2006 to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Kamloops Mayor Terry Lake, Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd and Prince George Mayor Colin Kinsley requested Federal support to assist residents with 'the impact of this natural disaster'.

Contact Information

  • Peak Communicators Ltd.
    Alyn Edwards
    Vice President
    (604) 689-5559 or Cell: (604) 908-7231
    Venture Kamloops
    Jeff Putnam
    Cell: (250) 318-1725