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Calvin Township sparks national wildfire measures

Council urges the feds to create a national firefighting strategy and pitch in more money for the cause
The forest fires are coming, and Calvin Township is urging the Feds to prepare post-haste / File photo.

Calvin Township is sparking a wildfire movement.

Council has voted to pressure the federal government to get better prepared for forest fires. Councillors recently passed a motion to encourage the feds to give more money to help offset the costs of firefighting to municipalities.

They are also calling for the development of a national strategy for firefighting. Also, councillors urge the government to investigate what it would take to create a national fleet of Canadian-made water bombers, which could be strategically placed to best serve rural communities.

“Before Calvin Township became a township, it was burned by numerous forest fires,” Calvin’s Mayor, Richard Gould, said. “This was before the time of fire towers, water bombers, and municipal fire departments,” he added.

The mayor cited a passage from an 1881 report from Lawrence Tallan, a provincial land surveyor. Tallan noted the township was burned so severely, “scarcely a vestige of the original timber remains.”

“History has a way of repeating itself,” the mayor warned, and now “more than ever” is the time to be better prepared for forest fires. With “rising temperatures and drier seasons,” the risk of forest flame is on the rise.

See: Calvin’s fire chief knows new bill will attract more firefighters

Mayor Gould also emphasized that invasive pests like the emerald ash borer and spruce budworm are killing many trees, the dead wood “leaving copious amounts of dry kindling in our forests.” All it takes is a lightning strike, errant match, or billowing ash from a campfire to set the countryside aflame.

“This is not the time to be caught short with limited forest firefighting resources.”

Mayor Gould explained that our fleet of water bombers is aging, many nearing the end of their usefulness. He noted that Ontario’s fleet consists of 20 bombers with an average age of 24 years. A few of the planes are hovering around the 54-year mark.

He added there is “a Canadian company making large skimmer style water bombers” and it's backed up with orders from European countries until the end of this decade. Calvin Township wants to ensure Canada and Ontario replenish our supplies.

See: Volunteer firefighter petition lands in Ottawa

Last year, “We all smelled the smoke and saw the sky turn brown,” he said. “Buildings can be replaced, but lives cannot. And once an area is burned it takes more than a lifetime for it to return to its original state.”

The Mayor consulted with Calvin’s fire chief, Mariel Labreche while drafting his resolution for council’s consideration. Council agreed, and the document will be sent to all 444 Ontario municipalities for their consideration and support.

The resolution will also be sent to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, Premier Doug Ford, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Nipissing MPP Vic Fideli, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Municipalities Ontario.

The spark has been lit to drown out forest fires.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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