The City of Merritt is applying for a $200,000 education program in light of increased forest fires.

With communities around the province, including Merritt, being more drastically impacted by wildfire in the last several years, there has been a greater focus on the FireSmart program – which aims to educate the public and help to mitigate wildfire risk.

Back in 2016, the City of Merritt embraced the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which outlined 28 recommendations which would reduce the community’s wildfire risk.

Since that time, the City has been working diligently on fuel treatments, strategic planning, public education, and enhancing response capabilities, work which even earned Merritt the Community Resiliency Recognition Award this past year.

In order to continue in these FireSmart endeavours, the City of Merritt approved unanimously during the latest council meeting the application for the Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) Program, 2024 FireSmart Community Funding and Supports, which is facilitated through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

The CRI Program provides 100 per cent coverage of qualifying project costs, with cities eligible to receive up to $200,000 annually. 

In 2024, the City of Merritt will be applying for $199,852, which will cover a variety of projects including more than $25,000 for education, $17,400 for interagency cooperation, $80,000 for FireSmart activities for residential areas and more than $31,000 for emergency planning.

As part of the grant application, the council must commit to providing overall grant management. 

Coun. Manuel Olguin questioned what the cost for grant management might be for the City, but Merritt Fire Chief David Tomkinson was quick to assure that at least part of this figure had been considered in the grant application.

“One portion of the grant is for $45,000 to offset staffing of the FireSmart coordinator, who will be doing the grant reporting at the end of this project,” explained Tomkinson.