The Courtenay Fire Department responded to 1,053 incidents in the city and fire protection districts in 2021 — the highest number of responses in its 106-year history. The previous record was 881 responses in 2017. Extreme weather events contributed to the increase. Call volume for the first five months was consistent with 2020, but significant weather events in summer, fall and winter caused an increase later in the year.
In an April 11 presentation to council, Fire Chief Kurt MacDonald also noted an increase in urban-related issues last year, such as campfires and dumpster fires downtown, especially in November and December.
Last year during the third worst wildfire season in B.C.’s history, the department assisted the province by deploying crews to Deka Lake in the Cariboo and Douglas Lake near Merritt for a total of 20 days.
•Ali Bajwa of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General spoke about the Situation Table model, an initiative of the Office of Crime Reduction & Gang Outreach. A situation table is comprised of front-line workers from various agencies and sectors who share limited information on clients facing elevated levels of risk. They co-ordinate immediate interventions within a 24- to 48-hour period. At least a dozen service providers typically participate in a session.
Situation tables serve people living with acutely elevated risk, in terms of community interest, and probability/intensity of harm. The most common age group referred is 30-39 years.
“A table supplements what’s on the ground,” Bajwa said.
Benefits of the program include better collaboration among service providers, improved service delivery, and reduced demand for emergency/police services.
Situation tables have been funded in Campbell River and Nanaimo. Bajwa asked council to consider a letter of support, and submission of a grant application to initiate a local table.
Coun. Doug Hillian takes issue with busy people taking on extra work. He feels council needs to communicate concerns about resource implications with the province.
•Project Watershed is seeking $10,000 in complementary funding to support the hiring of consultants to develop an options paper to highlight possible designs for public engagement and access at Kus-kus-sum. The paper intends to highlight different scenarios from medium to low levels of public access at the site, including the possibility of no public access.
The vision is to create a vibrant habitat connected to Hollyhock Flats, adjacent to the Kus-kus-sum site near the 17th Street Bridge. Project Watershed needs to raise $6.5 million, remove 8.3 acres of concrete, and recontour and replant with native species.